Funded Early Learning and Childcare Eligibility
In Scotland, all 3 and 4 year olds, from the relevant start date, and eligible 2 year olds are entitled to funded early learning and childcare (ELC) of up to 600 hours per year. The Scottish Government and local authorities committed to increase the entitlement to up to 1,140 hours per year from August 2020. The impacts of coronavirus pandemic necessitated a delay to the full roll-out of the statutory duty to provide 1,140 hours of funded ELC, so the Scottish Government and local authorities can't guarantee the expanded funded ELC hours will be available everywhere from August 2020. The full expansion will happen at a later date.
Arrangements for when children are eligible for funded ELC are set out under the Provision of Early Learning and Childcare (Specified Children) (Scotland) Order 2014 (the 2014 Order). Eligibility for funded ELC starts from the term after a child's third birthday. The eligibility criteria also prioritises those children who stand to benefit the most in the first instance, through statutory eligibility criteria enabling earlier access to funded ELC for some 2 year olds.
School Deferral and Early Learning and Childcare Eligibility
In Scotland, the school year starts in August with any single school year group usually consisting of children born between the beginning of March in one year and the end of February the following year. Children are typically aged between 4.5 and 5.5 years old when they start school. Under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (the 1980 Act), all children who are still four when they are due to start their first year of school (P1) can be deferred and start the following year. The option to defer is a matter of parental choice.
If a parent chooses to defer their child's entry to P1, legislation determines whether they qualify for an additional year of funded ELC automatically, or at the local authority's discretion. The eligibility criteria set out in the 2014 Order means that the youngest children, those born in January or February, are able to access an additional year of funded early learning and childcare when they are four, if the parent chooses to defer the child's entry to primary school.
For children who turn five after the school commencement date in August to the end of December, parents can still defer their entry to P1 for a year but local authorities decide whether additional funded ELC will be made available using their discretionary powers under section 1(1C) of the 1980 Act.
On 2 October 2019, the Minister for Children and Young People committed to bring forward legislation to extend the automatic funding of an additional year of ELC in a deferred year to children born after the school commencement date in August to the end of December. This means that all children who defer entry to primary school will be automatically entitled to an additional year of funded ELC.
This publication presents analysis which was conducted by Scottish Government in order to inform the understanding of trends and variations in deferral rates, and the characteristics of pupils identified as having deferred entry to primary school. Analysis of the following characteristics is included: sex, Additional Support Needs (ASN) status, disability status, ethnicity, SIMD of the pupil's home postcode, and local authority of the children to have deferred entry to primary school.
Methods and Quality
The statistics presented in this document are derived from National Statistics data collected in the School Pupils Census. This publication is an ad-hoc release and is not published as Official or National Statistics. Information on data quality is published in the latest release of Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland.
The age and stage of children in the Scottish Government pupil census was used in order to identify pupils who deferred entry to primary school. These pupils are referred to as 'deferred pupils' in this document. Pupils who were in P1, and were aged five and a half to six years old at the start of the August they began school, were identified in this group in the pupil census.
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