School education (including ‘Early Learning and Childcare’)
Children resident in a Scottish local authority area, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to a school education, including provision of early learning and childcare.
Early learning and childcare
Local authorities are required to provide up to 1,140 hours of high quality funded early learning and childcare (ELC) per year for all three and four year olds, and eligible two year olds, from the relevant start date.
Under section 1(1C) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 local authorities have discretion to provide access to funded ELC as they see fit. This can include providing access to children who do not meet the statutory eligibility criteria or providing more hours than the mandatory amount.
Local authorities have other duties and powers under section 27 the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 to provide ‘day care’ for pre-school ‘in need of care and attention’.
As part of joint efforts across local and national government in Scotland to give Ukrainians fleeing the conflict a warm welcome, Ministers encourage councils to use their discretionary powers to the fullest extent possible to offer access to funded ELC to Ukrainian children and families.
Local authorities are best placed to ensure that appropriate provision is put in place at a local level and have appropriate discretion in the legal framework to offer access to ELC that meets the specific needs of these children and families (for example, if a temporary crèche facility is required at a Welcome Hub).
The Scottish Government is seeking to ensure that the additional per capita funding received from the UK Government to provide education services for children from families arriving from Ukraine is sufficient to cover the additional hours of funded childcare that is available in Scotland.
For further information see: early learning and childcare: statutory guidance.
Primary and secondary education
An education authority has a duty to provide full-time education for children aged 5 to 16. The duty of the local education authority to provide full-time education also applies to a child who is temporarily living in the area unless the parents have chosen to home educate.
Children resident in a Scottish local authority are entitled to a school education and local authorities are responsible for ensuring this provision is in place at a local level. This should normally be in the child’s catchment school(s), but where places are not immediately available, or appropriate support is more readily available at another school, the local authority may support a placement at another school.
Families arriving from Ukraine with children in primaries 1 to 5 will automatically be entitled to free school meals under the universal provision policy for this age group. Where they have children in older age groups, these families will still be eligible if they are in receipt of any of the eligible qualifying benefits. More information on Eligibility for free school lunches on the school meals page.
Local authorities also have the option to offer free school meals using local discretion where a family does not meet the national eligibility criteria. The Scottish Government does not specify when local discretion should be used, however one such example could be where a newly arrived family from Ukraine has made an application for Universal Credit but they are still awaiting their first monthly award notice.
Families arriving from Ukraine will be eligible to receive the school clothing grant if they meet the local eligibility criteria, however this criteria is set locally by councils and not the Scottish Government. If a family does not meet your local eligibility criteria, but is experiencing financial hardship, local authorities may wish to consider discretionary support.
Further and higher education
Ministers have agreed that urgent amendments to student support regulations are progressed to extend support (home tuition fee rate and living cost support) for individuals who have applied for leave under the Ukraine Family Scheme or Homes for Ukraine Scheme from new academic year.
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