Early learning and childcare: Deferral Working Group minutes - October 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 24 October 2022.

Attendees and apologies


Scottish Government
Education Scotland
Aberdeen City Council
Angus Council
Argyll and Bute Council
Clackmannanshire Council 
Falkirk Council
Fife Council
Glasgow City Council
Shetland Islands Council
Stirling Council 
Northern Alliance Regional Improvement Group
Tayside Alliance Regional Improvement Group
West Partnership Regional Improvement Group


Scottish Borders Council
South East Alliance Regional Improvement Group 
South West Collaborative Regional Improvement Group 
Care Inspectorate

Items and actions


Chair opened the meeting.  Members agreed minutes from last meeting

Update on evaluation

Scottish Government (SG) analysts provided an update on the deferrals pilot evaluation including on timings.  

Discuss enrolment for 2023

Pilot areas were asked about their approaches to allocating funded early learning and childcare (ELC) places, specifically in terms of different age groups.

Members responded to say that generally deferrals would get priority over more recently eligible children but with most saying this had not been an issue so far.  

A member mentioned that issues can arise when parents change their minds which can have an impact on staffing and resource assumptions. They asked if it would be possible to have a cut off date after which parents would be unable to change their mind.  

A member from a rural local authority (LA) stated that whilst it had not been an issue so far in the pilot, as more people become more aware of deferrals there may be more take up which could become an issue as even relatively small changes in numbers can have an impact on workforce in that area, and staffing is a major issue. Other LAs may have more capacity, notably in the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector, to deal with an increase in numbers.

A member stated their LA had a parents’ guide on their website and that they have a cut off date of the end of February which they set out to parents, which was in line with P1 applications. 

A member mentioned alternative pathways. They have noticed that if children with Additional Support Needs (ASN) are not getting the place they want at primary school they may look to deferral as an alternative option.

Parental communications

Pilot areas were asked if there were examples of good communication which had worked well in the pilot areas, if LAs had any good examples to share.

A member stated that their focus is on careful conversations which centre around what is the right decision for the child. They also mention play pedagogy in their conversations.

A member pointed out the importance of neutral conversations and ensuring that staff support parents to take the decision that is right for their child. 

Consensus was that practitioners and parents are best placed to have those conversations at the local level. 

One member checked their webpages with the Give Them Time Campaign, and another member had a set of commonly asked questions on their webpages.

Another member mentioned the importance of getting the information out there and utilising different platforms such as roadshow events or community groups.

Any other business

Members agreed the next meeting will be in February.

A member asked about the potential for a national cut off date for final enrolment after which parents would be unable to change their minds.  
SG stated it was for LAs to decide that.

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