The campaign for a further year of nursery funding for ALL children legally deferring 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.
WHAT’S THE LAW ON DEFERRAL IN SCOTLAND?
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.
If you are interested in finding out more about deferral, you may want to join the Deferral Support Scotland Facebook group. It was set up in May 2018, initially for parents but now early years’ staff too, to help them find out about the law on deferral, the policy in their local authority area and to give them the opportunity to discuss related issues. It now has more than 2800 members and 31 associated local area messenger chats.
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
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.
PLEASE SUPPORT THE GTT CAMPAIGN – USE THIS TEMPLATE TO WRITE TO YOUR MSPs TODAY
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: email@example.com.
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 ???
Delighted to see this tweet from the Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd this morning:
2/10/20 UPDATE ON MEETING WITH SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.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.