Under current legislation, parents of children aged 4 years old at the start of the school session in August (ie. those with birthdays on or after the first day of term in August up to the end of February the following year) have a choice about enrolling their child for primary school. These children can start school before they are 5 or can defer their start until the following August. 

For children with a birthday on or after the first day of term in August and the end of December, parents have a legal right to defer entry to school but local authorities have discretion regarding whether to fund the additional year in nursery or not. An additional year of early learning and childcare is guaranteed for children with a birthday in January and February of the following year if parents choose to defer entry to school.

Most parents choose to send their child to school as soon as they are eligible to start. By the time they reach the age of 4 or 5 years old, there are already differences in each child's development, learning and levels of independence. You may be considering deferring your child's entry to school simply because you feel that your child is not yet ready for primary 1. If you are concerned about this you should speak directly to the staff who care for your child and/or to the head or manager of the nursery or group your child attends.

We understand the importance of the decision you are making for your child and want to help you with your choice.

Different processes apply according to the reasons why a child is deferring and also to when they have their birthday.

If you decide to defer your child's entry to school you must complete a deferred entry application form. Although we accept application forms throughout the academic year, we would advise parents for the August intake, to have their completed application forms with establishments by the end of February of that same year. 

Awaiting a decision on your deferred entry request

In all cases, you should enrol your child at your catchment primary school. This usually happens in January of each year. This also safeguards your child's place in primary 1 should your application for a funded deferred place be unsuccessful and you do not wish to pay for the additional year.


Last updated: Tuesday, March 2, 2021 2:15 PM