Deferring entry - guidance

Guidance for parent(s) and carers who feel that their child would benefit from an additional year of Early Learning and Childcare

Curriculum for Excellence

Curriculum for Excellence aims to raise standards and prepare children and young people for their future. The curriculum begins in Early Learning and Childcare and continues to the end of S3 when learners move to the senior phase. Its purpose is to develop the knowledge, skills, attributes and capabilities of the four capacities of Curriculum for Excellence:

  • Successful Learners
  • Confident Individuals
  • Responsible Citizens
  • Effective Contributors

It is designed to provide the depth and breadth of education to develop flexible and adaptable young people with the knowledge and skills they will need to thrive now and in the future. Early Learning and Childcare and Primary One are presented together as Early Level where learning approaches build on the knowledge, skills, attributes, and capabilities explored in Early Learning and Childcare. The continuous focus on Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Wellbeing underpins a clear, shared understanding of progression and high quality learning and teaching in order to meet the needs of all.

When should my child start Primary School?

Traditionally in Scotland almost all children aged between 4 ½ and 5 enroll in Primary School in August, at the start of the autumn term. You should make an enrolment application for the Catchment Primary School in the November before he/she is due to start school.

Children who have not had their 5th birthday by the time school starts in August, are entitled to another year of funded Early Learning and Childcare. For session 2024/25 this is available to children who turn 5 years of age between 15 August 2024 and 28 February 2025.

This does not mean that all parents with children in this age group will choose to take up this option. 

How to decide if your child is ready to start Primary School

By the time children reach the age of 4 or 5 years old, there are already differences in each child’s development, learning and levels of independence.  All Primary One classes will have a spread of age ranges, abilities and needs. 

If you have concerns about whether your child should take up a place in Primary One, you should discuss this with the head teacher/manager of the Early Learning and Childcare setting(s) your child attends as soon as possible.  This enables focussed discussions to be planned and appropriate evidence to be collated.

Some questions to be explored when there are concerns about school entry:

  • What are the current barriers for your child moving into Primary One?
  • What strategies are currently being used and what is the impact on the child?
  • Has the future primary school been involved in this discussion?
  • What could be put in place in Primary One to ensure your child’s needs can be met?
  • What evidence supports the suggestion that your child’s needs cannot be met in Primary One?
  • Are there any exceptional circumstances which would suggest another year in nursery would meet the needs of your child?
  • Have the possible long term consequences of delaying school entry been fully explained to you e.g. school leaving age, long term impact of child being older than peers?

Read more information about deferred entry on the Parent Club website: 

 Can my child defer starting school?