Early learning and childcare: statutory guidance - July 2021

Statutory guidance to education authorities to support them in exercising their functions in relation to the delivery of early learning and childcare from 1 August 2021.

Deferred school entry and eligibility

63. 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. School age is defined in sections 31 and 32 of the 1980 Act[15]. Parents of children that are still 4 years old on the date they are eligible to start school (i.e. children with birth dates on or between the day after the school commencement date in August – last day in February) can defer their child's start at primary school for a year.

64. In terms of eligibility for funded early learning and childcare when children defer primary 1 for a year, an amendment has been made to the 2014 Order to ensure that from 1 August 2023, all children who defer are automatically entitled to funded early learning and childcare in their deferred year. Until then, eligibility depends on the child's birth date. Eligibility until 31 July 2023 and from 1 August 2023, for funded early learning and childcare for children who defer is therefore summarised separately below.


Email: ELCPartnershipForum@gov.scot

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