The Provision Of Early Learning And Childcare (Specified Children) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2020: equality impact assessment Results

Equality impact assessment (EQIA) to consider the impacts on families with a protected characteristic where a further year of funded ELC is offered as parents have decided to defer their child's entry to P1 for a year.


Key Data Sources

25. Scottish Government ELC census[7] which provides information on funded ELC. This includes data on the number of registrations for funded ELC, with information available on numbers by age, disability and additional support needs.

26. The Scottish Pupil Census which collects individual-level data on publicly-funded schools and their pupils. Data is collected from all local authority and grant-aided schools and school centres. Analysis of the pupil census data[8] was conducted by the Scottish Government in order to inform the understanding of trends and variations in deferral rates between 2014 and 2018, 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.

27. Research Exploring parents' views and use of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland[9]. This was commissioned by the Scottish Government in 2017 and involved a nationally representative survey and follow up discussions with parents and carers of children under the age of six about their use, views and experience of ELC. A total of 10,526 valid survey responses were submitted by parents. The research explored views and experiences across different parent groups.


28. The Scottish Government had planned to carry out a formal consultation on this policy however, the ELC Directorate’s work was prioritised to the COVID‑19 response, meaning this could not be carried out.

29. Despite not carrying out a formal consultation, the Scottish Government has discussed the introduction of the legislation to entitle all deferred children to funded ELC with a range of stakeholders, as outlined below:

  • Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Individual local authorities
  • Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) Early Years Network
  • ADES Resources Network
  • Working Group on ELC and Childcare Sector Recovery
  • Give Them Time Campaign
  • Scottish Government Policy Units and Education Scotland

30. Since the Minister for Children and Young People made the commitment to extend eligibility for all deferred children to have access to funded ELC, it was made clear that it would be implemented in partnership with education authorities, who hold the statutory duty to ensure provision of funded ELC. Prior to the pandemic and before full roll out of the 1140 hours ELC expansion was delayed, both COSLA and ADES Early Years Network advised that commencing this change at the same time as when local authorities statutory duty to provide 1140 hours begins, would put their successful delivery of the ELC expansion at risk as removing local authority discretion over funded ELC for deferred children born between August and December could lead to an increase in the number of children each year with a statutory entitlement to funded ELC places that has not been accounted for in current ELC expansion plans.

31. In our discussions with COSLA, and with local authorities directly, we have therefore explored the implications of this policy change and different options for implementation, mindful of the need to ensure that full rollout does not put delivery of the 1140 hours ELC expansion at risk.

32. The Working Group on ELC and Childcare Sector Recovery membership is drawn from the representative bodies from across the childcare sector (CALA, EYS, NDNA, SCMA and SOSCN) together with the Care Inspectorate, COSLA and Scottish Government. This group raised no significant concerns on the Order. Written feedback from one of the childcare sector membership organisations who had asked for comments from their members, supported the introduction of this legislation. They noted that the change will offer choice and continuity for families, and will mean there is a consistent policy nationally.

33. Since the Give Them Time campaign group launched in 2018, they have called for a further year of ELC funding for all children whose parents have a statutory right to defer their child’s P1 entry. They also have called for more consistent and transparent information from local authorities in relation to parents legal rights on deferral and asked that decisions on a discretionary funding for children with an August to December birth date who are deferred, are consistently child-centred. They have received official support from the following organisations:

  • Connect
  • Play Scotland
  • The National Parent Forum of Scotland
  • Children in Scotland
  • Upstart Scotland
  • Reform Scotland
  • Home-start

34. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, draft statutory guidance[10] was published for public consultation between December 2019 and March 2020. This included updated sections on school deferral and ELC eligibility, based on the current legislative framework. This consultation received feedback on the current legislation for ELC eligibility for deferred children, with many responses calling for the current legislation to change so that all deferred children can access funded ELC in their deferred year. An independent analysis of the consultation responses is currently being produced for future publication.



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