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Deferring Primary 1

Deferral Process - Accessing an additional year of funded ELC

In Scotland, children usually start primary school in the year preceding or during which they have their 5th birthday.  This means that in Primary 1 classes, children are usually aged between 4½ and 5½ years.  Where a child does not start school at the anticipated August start date for their year group, it is called deferred entry to primary school.

Children who are five at the start of the school session in August must start school in August. Alternatively, parents/carers can make arrangements to home educate their child.

If your child’s 5th birthday falls between 17th August 2023 (the day after the school commencement date) and the end of February 2024 you have a legal right to defer their entry into Primary 1 until August 2024, when they are nearer 6 years old.

Previously, only children born in January and February had the automatic right to receive an additional year of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) when they deferred. From August 2022, Fife Council has been taking part in a Scottish Government pilot scheme to extend this to all children who are eligible to defer entry into Primary 1. This then becomes a universal right from August 2023.

Every child is different, even those of the same chronological age. Prior to making your decision it is important to give consideration to a range of factors, including:

  • how your child feels about starting school.
  • your child's strengths as a learner.
  • the particular outcome that would be achieved for your child by having an additional year at nursery.
  • who can help inform your decision-making.

While the decision to defer a child's entry to primary school is ultimately for parents, it is widely accepted that the best decisions are reached with the involvement of those who know your child as a learner. We would recommend that you discuss options for your child with the staff in your ELC provider as soon as possible. If you have any questions about the primary school your child will attend, you can contact the Headteacher of the school directly.

We have provided answers to some FAQs at the bottom of this page to help you with your decision.  Additional useful information on what to consider is also available at: Can my child defer starting school? | Parent Club

Application Process for Deferrals if your child currently attends a Fife Council Local Authority Nursery Provision

A Request for Deferral application should be submitted by 31st January 2023, directly to your current Fife Council ELC Provider. This is to ensure your child’s placement in your current setting is continued as part of the normal Fife Council ELC admissions process for academic year 2023-24.  Nursery staff will be able to help you with this.

Application Process for Deferrals at Private/Voluntary sector providers or childminders in partnership with Fife Council to deliver funded ELC

Parents/carers should check with the nursery/playgroup/childminder their child attends that they would be able to continue with their current placement for academic year 2023-24. If so, a Request for Deferral application should be submitted directly to your provider by 31st January 2023.

Request to Change Provider / Attendance Pattern for 2023/24

If you wish to change the ELC placement your child attends for academic year 2023-24, then you should complete a new application for a nursery place for session 2023-24 for 3-4 year olds, in addition to the deferral request.

  • For placements based in a Fife Council ELC service, a completed application form should be submitted by 31st January 2023. This will be processed in line with Fife Council’s Early Learning and Childcare Admissions policy.  You can still submit a late application for deferral / new placement after 31st January 2023 and before the start of academic year in August 2023, but this will limit the options of funded ELC placements available to your child, as most Fife Council nursery places will have already been allocated.

For placements based in a private nursery, playgroup or childminder offering funded ELC on behalf of Fife Council, you should contact your preferred ELC provider directly to request a place for 2023-24.  Each Service has its own admissions policy and will be able to let you know if they are able to offer your child a placement for the following year.

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