Early learning and childcare: Deferral Working Group - terms of reference

Terms of reference for the working group.


The Deferral Working Group is constituted as a time-limited committee of Scottish Government officials, local authorities and quality and improvement bodies.


The purpose of the group is to guide and assist evaluation of the pilot approach to funded Early Learning & Childcare (ELC) for all children deferring entry to Primary 1; and assist preparation and planning for full implementation of the associated legislation in August 2023.


  • ensure appropriate mechanisms are in place to evaluate the pilots, in order to inform the both the ongoing pilots into the second year; and full implementation of the policy in August 2023
  • share learning from the pilots, and seek input to the pilots, including from non-pilot local authorities via representation from each Regional Improvement Collaborative (RIC)
  • raise potential risks and issues to delivery of the legislation and resulting commitment to funded ELC for all children deferring entry to school; whether generally, or specific to certain local authorities
  • identify best practice that can be shared across all local authorities and/or settings delivering this commitment, whether now or in the future
  • consider opportunities to improve the communications and experience for families
  • identify and engage with other partners, stakeholders and policy officials where their expertise could assist with the previous objectives

Membership and attendance 


  • Scottish Government
  • Aberdeen City Council
  • Angus Council
  • Argyll and Bute Council
  • Clackmannanshire Council 
  • Falkirk Council
  • Fife Council
  • Glasgow City Council
  • Scottish Borders Council
  • Shetland Islands Council
  • Stirling Council
  • Forth Valley and West Lothian Collaborative RIC
  • Northern Alliance RIC
  • Tayside Alliance RIC
  • West Partnership RIC
  • South East Alliance RIC
  • South West Collaborative RIC
  • Care Inspectorate
  • Education Scotland

Attendance by members

To maximize the effectiveness of the group, all members will be expected to attend a minimum of 75% of meetings; and are invited to send a delegate to deputize when unable to attend.

Attendance by others

Other individuals or organisations may be co-opted to attend meetings as considered appropriate by the Group on an ad-hoc basis.


The Deferral Working Group will aim to meet at two month intervals, or as required in exceptional circumstances. The Chair may call additional meetings by exception to ensure business is undertaken in a timely way. The meetings will be facilitated by the Scottish Government ELC Team via video conference on Microsoft Teams.


The Deferral Working Group is authorised to create sub-groups or working groups, as are necessary to fulfil its responsibilities within its terms of reference. The Group may not delegate executive powers (unless expressly authorised) and remains accountable for the work of any such group.

The Deferral Working Group is authorised to obtain outside legal or other independent professional advice and to secure the attendance of those with relevant experience if it considers this necessary or advantageous to its work.

Servicing arrangements

The Group will be serviced by the SG ELC Access and Parental Comms Team. Papers will be sent two working days prior to meetings and members will be encouraged to comment via correspondence between meetings as appropriate.  An online space for discussion and sharing of documentation will be provided by the SG team.

Accountability and reporting 

The Deferral Working Group is accountable to the Project Managers of the ELC Deferral Project.

Actions will be circulated to the Board membership within one week of a meeting, once they have been approved by the Chair, along with exception reports as agreed by the membership of the Group.

Monitoring effectiveness and review 

The terms of reference will be reviewed and approved by the Deferral Working Group members.

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