School deferrals: Call for more awareness for parents with pupils starting P1

Less than one fifth of children whose primary school start could have been deferred were held back, according to new figures.
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Just over 200 Fife parents made that decision for a youngster who hadn’t turned five at the start of their first term.

Now a councillor has raised concerns over the lack of signing for the deferral scheme - which she says is a right every parent has to make.

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Kathleen Leslie, Conservative member for Burntisland, Kinghorn and Western Kirkcaldy, raised the issue at a meeting last week.


She has been pushing for what she calls “a fairer policy” for the past four years.

The latest figures from Fife Council showed that, of a possible 1194 deferrals in schools and nurseries, only 211 children were held back - less than 18%.

Councillor Leslie said: “Whilst the majority of parents whose child is born in January or February are aware of their right not to send their child to school until they are five, this is not the case for those who fall between the school starting date and the end of December.

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“This can mean that a child who is not five and is not ready for school is going to school.

“Unlike a number of other local authorities in Scotland it was not until this year that Fife Council automatically funded this deferred year to allow a child to remain in nursery.

“Before that, parents and carers often had to make the difficult decision to send a child who was still four years old because funding a further year at nursery was prohibitive.”

She welcomed the change, but said more awareness of the scheme was needed.

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“I am still very much concerned about is that upon asking the question around take up, I was advised that only 211 children had been deferred out of a possible 1,194. That is just under 18%,” she added.

“I fully accept that many parents feel their child is ready, but this is about ensuring there is awareness of the right to defer. I have requested that there is clear signposting in nurseries to this effect.

Parents need to be able to make an informed decision.”