The campaign for a further year of nursery funding for ALL children legally deferring their primary one start in Scotland.


Give Them Time is a grassroots movement which evolved in 2018 from parents across Scotland sharing their own, often difficult, experiences of applying for a further year of nursery funding for their child.

Our campaign has been successful in changing the law so that all children legally deferring their p1 start (those not age 5 by the school start date) from Aug 2023 to Aug 2024 and every year thereafter are now automatically entitled to a further year of nursery (ELC) funding.

This means it is no longer up to councils to decide whether to fund this or not for mid-August to 31st Dec born children (Jan and Feb borns have had this automatic entitlement to this since 2000).

We have created this two page information leaflet as a resource for parents, carers, early learning and childcare (ELC) staff, health visitors, primary school teachers and anyone else with an interest in primary one deferral rights in Scotland.

Please help us to share it far and wide to raise awareness of the right to defer and the accompanying ELC entitlement. Sadly as at Oct 2022, 22/32 councild do not have accurate information on their websites about deferral hence why we need your help to spread the word.


No child in Scotland is legally required to be formally educated before the August AFTER they turn five years old. This means that any child who would still be age four at the school commencement date in their local authority area in August doesn’t need to start school (or be home educated) until the following August a year later. Don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise – they’re wrong. 

This is set out in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, section 32, sub-section 3.

Also, you can scroll down to ‘Deferring Primary School’ at this Scottish Government webpage for further confirmation on this legal right.


If you are considering deferring your child’s primary 1 start and want to find out more/hear from other parents about it, join our Deferral Support Scotland Facebook group.



From now on you can find all the campaign’s latest updates – as well as the latest from our social media channels – by visiting our Media Coverage page (mobile users may need to scroll to the bottom of the page to see our Facebook and Twitter feeds).

Or follow us on:

Twitter: @GiveTimeScot

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Givethemtime


Please read our new blog for Upstart Scotland summarising our recent survery findings.



The 5 local authorities which will be participating in the automatic continued nursery funding pilot scheme for mid-Aug to 31 Dec deferrals from Aug 2021-2022 are:


Argyll & Bute



Scottish Borders

We are delighted for families in these areas who can now breathe a sigh of relief but we are also disappointed not to see any councils in the list which have had poor records of funding such requests over the last 2 years (all 5 of these areas have funded 100% of requests over the last 2 years). However, more councils will participate in the pilot from Aug 2022-2023.

We will be responding to the Minister as well as writing to the Education spokespeople in each political party to ask them to raise our concerns with the Minister at Holyrood’s next Education Committee meeting as part of the scrutiny process for the law change.

We want to know why these councils were chosen above those with poorer records of funding these requests and we want to see all local authorities permit parents to self-fund a continued space in a council nursery when the council refuses discretionary funding.





The parliamentary process to change the law was initiated today.

We’re delighted but also disappointed that the full national roll out won’t happen till 2023.

We’ll be sending a follow up email to ask that certain suggestions are taken into consideration for the pilot scheme from 2021-2023 which has yet to be finalised with CoSLA. Namely that LAs with poor recent approval rates are part of it, that all LAs start to permit self-financing when a council-funded nursery place is refused and that the loss of ELC (nursery) time due to Covid-19 is taken into serious consideration.


We had a good meeting with the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, yesterday. Here is a summary of the key points:

1. She is still definitely going to change the law by end of March 2021. She doesn’t expect any opposition and the plan is to start the parliamentary process for this next week.

2. Discussions with CoSLA and within government regarding implementation/costings are still ongoing so she can’t advise of how/when implementation will happen yet. However, she is strongly in favour of a phased-in/pilot approach in order to establish patterns of uptake so all councils can ensure they will have enough spaces to accommodate a full national roll out down the line. She will update us asap once these discussions are concluded (hopefully before Christmas). We were clear that our preference is for immediate roll out.

3. We discussed the issues raised by our Oct Survey Monkey questionnaire at length (see point 4 here) – the inconsistencies across LAs when it comes to staff’s knowledge about the right to defer any four-year-old, the continuing variation in application and assessment processes as well as parents sometimes being discouraged from applying as staff believe they don’t have much chance of getting funding. Ms Todd was sympathetic to these concerns and went on to discuss the cultural change that is required to address them, that it takes time and that the imminent law change will help.

4. Her officials will be writing to every single nursery in Scotland before Christmas to alert them to the imminent law change and to reiterate the legal entitlement to defer any four- year-old (hopefully this will be fed down from managers to all ELC staff).

5. We asked that if a phased-in approach is adopted that the 12 councils which don’t currently permit parents to self-fund a place in a council nursery during a deferral year (if the council refuses to fund it and space is available) could be asked to do so in the interim. She said that asking LAs to do this would be considered as part of the ongoing discussions (see point 5 here for the list of these councils).

6. We also asked that the loss of nursery time due to Covid-19 closures be taken into account for children requesting deferral nursery funding. She said she would expect this to be part of the wellbeing assessment made by councils to decide on funding.

7. The Scottish Government’s ParentClub website aims to be a one-stop shop where accurate information on deferral rights can be accessed by parents. We agreed to signpost parents in its direction as many LA’s websites continue to contain inaccurate information. Maree Todd agreed that once we share our research on which councils’ websites still contain inaccuracies, her officials will write to those LAs asking them to update their site with correct information. As a follow up, we plan to ask that at least one LA which has a poor track record of funding discretionary deferrals is part of any pilot/phasing approach. Those are the main points.

In short, plans have not been finalised but it looks like there will be some sort of pilot/phased-in implementation and we’ll be informed as soon as this has been decided.



The change in law is on the way but we don’t want it to be phased in – we want it to be effective across the country immediately. Please help us to push for this by editing and sending the message below to your MSPs today (or feel free to write your own message).

You can find out who your 8 MSPs are by entering your postcode here: https://www.writetothem.com

You can email all 8 of them via the Writetothem website above or to send them from your personal email account then their email addresses all follow the same format: firstname.surname.msp@parliament.scot.

Thank you in advance!


Dear Mr/Ms ???,

My address is ???

As one of your constituents, I am writing to ask you to urge the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd, to ensure that the change in law she has committed to making before the end of this parliamentary term for continued nursery funding for any child legally deferring their primary one start becomes effective immediately as soon as it is passed.

Members of the Give Them Time campaign met with civil servants from the Scottish Government’s Early Learning and Childcare department on 2/10/20 who updated them that discussions with CoSLA about the implementation of this law change were ongoing and involved consideration of a phased approach to delivery. Such a potential delay to a national rollout is not good enough as many families will not be able to afford a further year of nursery funding and should not be subject to the current postcode lottery in terms of whether they are likely to obtain this funding from their local authority or not.

My own experience is that ???

This is an issue which is very important to me and I would therefore be very grateful if you could write to the Minister or ask a question in parliament or at the relevant committee to urge her to make the legislation effective immediately as soon as it is passed. I would appreciate it if you could you this as soon as possible as members of the Give Them Time campaign are meeting with the Minister on 3rd Dec 2020.

Kind regards,



Delighted to see this tweet from the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd this morning:



We met with two policy officers from Minister Maree Todd’s office this morning. They set an agenda for us to provide an update from the Campaign perspective including discussion of implementation of the new legislation as well as a discussion on parental communication regarding ELC and deferral.
Overall the discussion was positive. We are confident that the legislation will be in place by April 2021, however, we are not clear about how or when the legislation will be implemented.
We provided our update on the basis of our research and experience as well as the Covid-related points raised yesterday by members of the Deferral Support Scotland Facebook group. We also gave an overview of the recent FOI requests we have received re deferral funding across Scotland.
The policy officers advised the following:
. The legislation allowing all deferrals to be funded will involve amending current legislation – The Provision of Early Learning and Childcare (Specified Children) (Scotland) Order 2014 (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2014/196/contents/made). One paragraph will be changed to reflect that all children will be eligible for funding and not just Jan/ Feb born.
· The legislation will be subject to the affirmative procedure, there’s some information on the parliamentary process for this here: https://www.parliament.scot/help/60172.aspx
· The process normally takes 54 counting days for the legislation to be passed, there is an explanation of what is classed as a counting day here: https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/91488.aspx
At the moment, there is ongoing discussion between the Scottish Government and COSLA regarding implementation. Although they confirmed that the legislation should be in place before the end of this parliament term in March 2021, they advised that they cannot confirm how this will be implemented. They suggested that there may be some phasing of the new law including the following potential options:
* low income families to access funding first
* some local authorities funding all deferrals before others
We were advised that there are no absolute guarantees at this moment that all children who defer in 2021 will receive the funding.
We asserted our view that the legislation change should be implemented as soon as possible with immediate effect and that this is the main item we wish to discuss with the Minister at our meeting on 28th Oct.
The other main agenda item related to communication between the EY sector and parents. The Scottish Government are trying to develop a ‘one stop shop’ for all parents and professionals on their ParentClub website with easy, accessible information on deferral rights and options. This will hopefully reduce the likelihood of professionals providing incorrect information. They want to provide information for parents on the entire transition experience of their children moving to P1 in order that parents are able to make informed decisions with all the information they require to make this decision.
The Scottish Government are asking for ‘case studies’ (anonymous) providing examples of experiences of parents of transition (sending your child to school at 4) and deferral. They also wanted to hear about parents’ recent experiences with local authorities in terms of their interaction/ engagement with parents on the issue of deferral. We were able to provide some information about this highlighting recurring issues raised by parents from NLC, EDC, CEC, ELC, Stirling and the issues with GCC last year.
Summary Points:
1. We will send our FOI spreadsheet on LA approval of funding once completed to Scottish Government (we’re still waiting on data from a few councils).
2. We will create a Survey Monkey questionnaire to collate experiences and examples (anonymously) of transition/ deferral processes to send to ScotGov.
3. Scottish Government will continue to work with COSLA and other Ministers to develop the legislation and plan for the implementation of the amended legislation to fund all deferrals.
4. Scottish Government are working on developing an improved communication system for parents and professionals to access information on deferral.
5. We are meeting with Maree Todd – Mininster for Children and Young People – at the end of the month to continue the above discussion and hopefully gain more clarity on timeline/ implementation.


We are absolutely delighted to receive this letter (in the screenshot below) from Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd (see yellow section at end of second screenshot for key info).

While no timeline is given for implementation of the promise she made in parliament last October, she has confirmed here in writing that she will honour her commitment before the elections in May 2021 and change the law to automatically fund a further year of nursery for ALL children legally deferring their P1 start.
Change is coming and our job now is to push for a timeline.
Please click the letter pages to enlarge.


In a Scottish Parliament debate, MSP Ian Gray has asked for automatic funding to be in place by the end of 2020 to ensure that no more parents are subjected to the postcode lottery of being forced to apply to their local authority. You can view this from 16.43:38 till 16.44:58 here.



We have written to Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People to ask her to fulfil the commitment she made in parliament in Oct 2019 to bring in legislation to fund a further year of nursery for all children legally deferring their primary one start (see screenshot below).
We also wrote to our supporting organisations and all political parties’ education spokespeople to ask them to write to the Minister echoing our calls for this to be done by the end of 2020 to ensure that no more parents are subjected to the postcode lottery of being forced to apply to their local authority for this.
Additionally, we have received 4 responses to date to our FoI requests to all 32 Scottish local authorities about the number of discretionary deferral funding requests they received and approved last year. All councils are due to respond by 22nd Sep. You can view and follow the progress of each of these here.
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Following the update below of 14/11/19, yesterday we got sight of this North Lanarkshire Council document which will be discussed and voted on this Monday 24th Feburary entitled, “PROPOSED REVISION OF THE POLICY ON DISCRETIONARY DEFERRAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR CHILDREN ENTERING PRIMARY SCHOOL, 24/02/2020“.

The Campaign’s full response can be seen below in the email that was sent to all North Lanarkshire Councillors this afternoon as well as in the relevant attachments. Let’s hope it’s given the consideration it deserves by those who have a vote before Monday.

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Give Them Time response to North Lanarkshire Council Report, February 2020

Appendix 1 – NLC Paper for 24.2.20 with GTT Comments Inline

Appendix 2 – GTT Summer-2019-FoIs

Appendix 3 – Articles Etc on Potential Benefits of Deferral



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One of our members stumbled across this article in The Press and Journal this morning which seems to state that Highland Council will now be offering an automatic entitlement to a further year at nursery for ALL children with a legal right to defer (any child not age 5 by the school starting date in Scotland) whose parents/carers choose to defer them. We have sent the email below to Highland Council this morning to clarify this. We will update here when we receive a response.

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We are utterly appalled, disgusted and despondent having been so thoroughly let down by North Lanarkshire Council’s Education and Families Committee on Tuesday.

We have been advised that section 4.2 of this report (https://mars.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/eg…/images/att92723.pdf) was approved at NLC’s Education and Families Committee on 12th Nov. The penultimate paragraph in section 2.4 states that, “Until a full and concise appraisal of affordability implementing new arrangements, the current deferred entry policy and the admissions policy will remain in place”. In short this means that the motion which was agreed unanimously by all 70+ councillors at NLC’s full council meeting on 20th June 2019 (to grant automatic continued nursery funding for all children legally deferring their p1 start from 2020 to 2021 and beyond) has been revoked. To be 100% clear, this is a complete u-turn before it has even been put into practice.

We do not understand how this can be possible as part of a democratic process. How can a policy be reversed before it has even had a chance to be implemented?

Even as recently as 2/10/19, Councillor Allan Stubbs who brought the motion to NLC’s full council meeting on 20/6/19 was talking about the policy change he contributed to in NLC on Twitter: https://twitter.com/allanstubbs/status/1179436984470777856…

So many parents in North Lanarkshire have been let down by this. All of our hard work seems to have been for nothing. We are considering what course of action to take in response to this despicable move.


One year ago today the Give Them Time campaign was officially launched. We’ve made progress but this article about us in the Ferret today highlights the persisting inequalities and that our battle continues. #thrivenotcope #givethemtime


The Scottish Government has pledged to bring forward legislation to ensure all four-year-old children deferring their entry to school are automatically entitled to an additional year’s nursery funding.

The announcement marks a huge victory for the Give Them Time campaign and follows on from a Scottish Parliament vote in favour of changing the law.

We will maintain pressure on the Government to set out its timescale for the legal change and call on them to agree interim measures for all children who need to defer within the coming year.


Today councillors in East Renfrewshire voted 9 – 8 against a motion at the full council meeting which proposed moving to an automatic nursery funding model for mid-Aug to 31 Dec born children legally deferring p1 start. We are bitterly disappointed but we will not stop battling for equality of access to nursery funding .


Today councillors in North Lanarkshire voted unanimously to automatically fund a further year of nursery for all children deferring p1 start in a major victory for the Give Them Time campaign.

In line with the existing entitlement for Jan and Feb born children, this guaranteed additional year of funding allows parents deferring a mid-August to 31st December born child to make the decision to defer without the fear of losing their nursery place and/or having to finance it themselves.

North Lanarkshire is Scotland’s fourth largest local authority and if they can pledge this funding in the current economic climate then it is surely something all councils should be doing?

The decision is welcome news, but the campaign will be keeping up the pressure until every local authority in Scotland funds nursery places for all deferred children.

Please support the Give Them Time campaign on the Deferral Support Scotland Facebook group. 


Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, Iain Gray, referenced the campaign whilst questioning the Scottish Government about the disparities in access to funding for parents choosing to defer their children.

Mr Gray highlighted the “national policy contradiction” between parents’s legal right to defer their children and also their entitlement to funded childcare for three and four-year-old children.

You can read more here at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/government-accused-of-failing-to-close-free-childcare-loophole-1-4932330


Today our motion will be debated in the Scottish Parliament finally giving a voice to the many parents across the country with experience of the deferral funding process.  Below some parents outline why they are supporting our campaign.

You can follow the debate here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-48091273


The motion in support of the campaign’s aims will be debated in the Scottish parliament on Wed 1st May at 5pm. 73 MSPs (of the 101 who are able to) have signed the motion but we need to get them to attend the debate. Please edit and email this template letter to all of your MSPs (one constituency and seven regional) to ask them to attend. Their email addresses follow the format of name.surname.msp@parliament.scot. To find out who yours are, enter your postcode at this link: https://www.parliament.scot/mspfinder/index.html

If you would like to attend, please email for tickets: givethemtime.scotland@gmail.com


The campaign was featured on BBC Scotland’s flagship news and current affairs programme The Nine. Watch here from 33:45


MSPs Fulton MacGregor and Iain Gray asked John Swinney (Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills) questions about the Give Them Time campaign in parliament today. Watch here from 14:21:07 – 14:24:25.


“Upstart Scotland heartily supports the Give Them Time campaign. All parents wishing to defer their children’s entry to formal schooling should be supported to do so by their local authorities. Scotland’s extraordinarily early school starting age has always disadvantaged many children and – due to lifestyle changes over recent decades – the need to focus on health, well-being and outdoor play during early childhood
grows greater every year. Until Upstart achieves our aim of a relationship-centred, play based kindergarten stage for all three- to seven-year-olds, it’s vital that parents’ right to defer school entry is upheld.”

Sue Palmer, Chair of Upstart Scotland

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“Home-Start works with many parents who want to grow their confidence, knowledge and skills so they can give their children the best possible start in life. We support Give Them Time because we believe every parent should know about and be free to exercise rights which are designed to help them do what they feel is best for their children.”

Shelagh Young, Director of Scotland, Home-Start UK