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Deferred entry to Primary 1

Deferred entry to Primary 1

When do children usually start school in Scotland?

Generally, children in Scotland start school when they are aged between four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half. When they are eligible to start school depends on when their 5th birthday is.

  • If your child’s birthday is on or between 1st March and the first day of school in August, your child will usually start school in the August (the beginning of the Autumn term) of the year they turn 5.
  • If your child’s birthday is on or between the day after the first day of school in August and the last day in February, your child will usually start school in the August (the beginning of the Autumn term) in the year before they turn 5, however, you have the option to defer your child’s entry to school.

What is deferred entry to school?

Deferred entry to school means that children start primary school one year later than the typical start date.

All parents and carers have the legal right to defer their child’s entry to primary school if they are not yet 5 years old at the beginning of the school year in August.

As of August 2023, a change in the legislation means that all children who are eligible to defer will automatically be able to access an additional year of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC).

My child is with a Clackmannanshire ELC provider, but I don't live in Clackmannanshire. How do I apply for a deferred year?

You will need to submit your deferral application to the local authority in which you live. Please let your Clackmannanshire ELC provider know if this is what you plan to do. 

When do I need to decide?

All deferred entry forms should be submitted by 29 February 2024. Any forms received after that date may not get their first choice of placement. 

Where do I send my deferred entry form?

Please submit your deferred entry form to the ELC setting your child currently attends.

If you are new to Clackmannanshire please submit your application to

What if I change my mind?

If you change your mind before your child takes up their deferred placement, every effort will be made to provide a primary school place at your child's catchment school.

Once children are deferred and begin their deferred year, the decision cannot be reversed at any point in your child's education.

Placing requests

Placing requests to a primary school which is not your catchment school are only granted for the current session. If you apply for a placing request for session 2024/25 then subsequently decide to defer your child, the placing request will be withdrawn. You would need to reapply for a placing request for sessions 2025/26.

How do I decide what’s best for my child?

Choosing to defer when your child starts primary school is a big decision.

Before you make your mind up, it’s worth finding out a bit more about the primary school your child will be attending.

If you've not visited a school recently, then you might be surprised at how much has changed since you were in Primary 1. Much of the learning in the early stages of primary school is based in play. This helps create a smooth transition for children moving from early learning and childcare into primary 1.

Speak to the teacher or headteacher about any specific concerns you might have, and if you think your child might benefit from a bit of extra support to settle in, you can find out what the school can do. 

Your early learning and childcare provider will also be able to give support and advice to help you reach your decision.

The list below of things to consider may help you make up your mind.

Things to consider for your child

If you are thinking about deferring your child’s P1 entry, here are some things you might want to consider:

  • If you are worried about school readiness, then please remember, it’s not the job of the child to be school ready, it’s the job of the school to be child ready.
  • What does the school think about deferring your child? What support would they be able to offer your child if you choose not to defer?
  • What feedback has the ELC setting given you? You can ask for a discussion to get advice from the ELC setting or childminder.
  • If you choose to send your child to school, what support will be available for them from the school?
  • If you choose to defer your child, what support and challenge will they receive from the ELC setting?
  • Have a think about what deferral will mean when your child is older, for example when they are 12, or 16, and they might be one of the youngest or one of the oldest in their class.
  • Be aware of what this will mean for gaining qualifications – if a child is deferred then that might mean they would be able to leave school at 16 without achieving any qualifications.

How are 4 year olds supported in primary 1?

Schools and teachers focus on the needs of the child, not their age, whether they are in early learning and childcare or at school. Children are supported to progress through the Curriculum for Excellence at an appropriate rate.

Children aged 3-5 in early learning and childcare settings and children in primary 1 classrooms usually work within the Early Level of the Curriculum for Excellence.

There has been a change in culture in schools over recent years, with a real focus on play and outdoor learning in many schools. 

My child has additional support needs, should I defer?

Any deferral should be based on the individual needs of your child. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to deferral or to support for children with additional support needs. Children with additional support needs don’t normally automatically defer. Instead, the school will consider what support to put in place for your child.

If starting school at this point isn’t in your child’s best interests because of their individual needs, then deferring entry to primary school can be considered. It’s worth chatting to your early learning and childcare provider and school about any concerns you have for your child.

More information

Further information about deferred entry can be found via the Parent Club Scotland website.

For any other enquiries, please email

For Further Information Contact

Education & Schools, Home Education
Kilncraigs, Greenside Street, Alloa, FK10 1EB
Tel: 01259 450000