1 October 2019

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson Iain Gray will bring forward a motion on Wednesday supporting the Give Them Time campaign, instructing the Scottish Government to end a postcode lottery of nursery funding for parents who defer sending their children to primary school before they turn five years old.

All parents of children who are still four at school start date can defer their children’s entry to Primary One, but the way local authorities deal with funding requests for another year of nursery varies widely.

At the moment, only parents of children who turn five after December 31st have an automatic right to continued free nursery hours.

"Other families find the council has the discretion to refuse them nursery funding, creating a postcode lottery in which only parents who can afford to pay for another year of nursery, are able to act in what they believe is their child’s best interest.

A national survey showed that an average of just one in five parents know they have a legal right to defer their child’s school start if they are born between September and December, compared to 80% of parents of children born in January and February.

The Scottish Government needs to change the law to ensure that all children whose parents choose to defer entry to P1 continue to be entitled to funded hours at nursery and do not see their early years education interrupted.

Making sure all families, despite their income and home address, have the same opportunities when it comes to education is vital in closing Scotland’s attainment gap.

Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray, said:

“It is unacceptable that where a family lives can dictate whether or not they can access an additional year of funded nursery for their child.

"I have repeatedly pressed ministers to close this loophole in the law which gives parents the right to defer, but then sees them denied nursery education for their child.

"It can be easily fixed and we will ask parliament to instruct them to fix it now.

"Families across Scotland are paying a price for Ministers’ stubborn refusal to correct this anomaly.

"I hope that parliament will support such a move on Wednesday, and that the Scottish Government will listen to reason.

“It is not helped by the fact that Council budgets have fallen at a faster rate in the last five years that the Scottish Government budget.

“If councils were properly financed, more would be able to put children first and guarantee that no child would be forced into primary school before they are ready, regardless of their parent’s income.”
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