In Scotland, all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds – those we believe will benefit most - have a statutory entitlement of up to 600 hours a year of funded ELC from the relevant start dates. Some children are also eligible for an additional year of funded ELC when they defer their entry to Primary 1 (P1) for a year.
All parents have the legal right to defer their child's entry to primary school if they are not yet five years old at the beginning of the school year. In the current system, the youngest children (those with a January or February birth date) are eligible for an additional year of funded ELC when their parent has exercised their statutory right to delay their child's school entry to P1 for a year.
Children who turn five years old between the August and December after the school commencement date can also be deferred, however, currently they do not have an automatic entitlement to funded ELC in that deferred year.
Local authorities have discretion over a further year of funded ELC for these children. The Scottish Government expects local authorities to make the decision about additional funded ELC for these children, based on an assessment of wellbeing, as set out in the Early Learning and Childcare statutory guidance that accompanied the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
This Order will remove this birth date related distinction, and entitle all children to a further year of funded ELC when their parents have decided to defer their entry to P1 for a year.
This CRWIA was undertaken to consider the impacts of this Order on children's rights and wellbeing. This CRWIA process found that:
- This Order will have positive impacts on the following Articles from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC):
Article 2 – Non-discrimination
Article 3 – Best Interests of the child
Article 5 – Parental Guidance and a child's evolving capacities
Article 6 – Life, survival, and development
Article 12 – Respect for the views of the child
Article 18 – Parental responsibilities and state assistance
Article 23 – Children with disabilities
Article 28 – Right to education
Article 29 – Goals of Education
Article 31 – Leisure, play, and culture
- This Order will support public bodies in Scotland to meet their duties to safeguard, support and promote the wellbeing of children in their area particularly on Included and Achieving indicators.
We have been working with COSLA, local authorities and other stakeholders to consider implementation of the policy and we plan to continue to work with partners to consider any further learning e.g. from authorities that are already delivering this policy in part or in full, or those who adopt the policy in advance of August 2023 as a result of a local policy decision. We are considering opportunities to work with any authorities participating in early adoption of the obligation, including potential data collection and evaluation of the implementation process. Part of this work will assess communications and information approaches to support parental choice.
When the policy is fully implemented, it is expected that the future ELC census, which will be fully established by 2022, will allow for more substantive research on how different families use ELC in a deferred year.
By 2022, the census will be based on an individual child level collection, and will collect characteristics data on children accessing funded ELC, including: sex, ethnicity, disability status, whether the child has any additional support needs, and the home postcode of the child (to enable analysis by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation).
This should allow for more substantive analysis on how different families use funded ELC in a deferred year, and help to identify if there are any particular groups where uptake is significantly different and where the Scottish Government and local authorities may need to further explore why this is in order to establish whether policy adjustments should be made.