Deferred Entry Guidance for Parent and Carers

In Scotland, children normally start school in the year during which they have their 5th birthday. This means they will be between the ages of 4½ and 5½ depending on when their birthday falls.

Where a child does not start school at the expected August start date for their year group, it is called deferred entry to primary school.

Who can defer entry to Primary School ?

Children who have their 5th birthday between 1st March and the first day of term in August must start school and exceptions can only be made in extreme circumstances and where it would be considered in the best interests of the child to defer. This would normally only apply to children with significant additional support needs.

ALL other children who have their 5th birthday on or after the first day of term in August up until the last day of February, are entitled to defer entry to school should their parents wish it.

Children may access a deferred year in  either a Council nursery, a Funded Provider partner nursery or with a Registered Childminder who is part of the Council’s Early Learning & Childcare  framework.

Children who have their 5th birthday between 1st January and the last day of February are guaranteed to receive a funded place during that deferred year. This is guaranteed because we receive funding from the Scottish Government for places for these children. 

Children who have their 5th birthday between the first day of term in August and the last day of December are entitled to defer entry but are not automatically entitled to have a deferred year funded by the Council. Scottish Government are working towards making a funded year an entitlement for all children but at present, the Council receives no funding for children born between August and December and therefore, the Council must agree whether or not to fund the place.  

The Council makes these decisions using a simple assessment process which takes account of the views of the parent / carer, the nursery and the supporting evidence around the child’s learning and development needs and the progress they are making. Where the Council does not agree that there is significant educational benefit to a child deferring entry to school, the parent / carer may still choose not to send their child to school but would have to fund any nursery or ELC childminding place  themselves.

Deferred Entry Application Process

January / February Birthdates

If your child has a January / February birthdate and you wish to defer their entry to school, you should discuss this with the head of your child’s nursery.

The nursery will advise the Council’s Customer Business Service (Early Years) of your request to defer your child and they will send a letter asking you to confirm your decision and confirm which primary school you hope your child will be attending in the future and whether you have already registered them at that school. If you confirm that you do wish to defer entry and that you have registered for school, your child’s name will be removed from the primary school list for that year and you should note, that should you change your mind at a later date, there may no longer be a place available for them at that school.

August to December Birthdates

Deferred Entry August to December flow chart

If your child has a birthdate on or after the first day of term in August up to the end of December and you feel that they would benefit from an additional year at nursery rather than starting school, then in the first instance you should discuss this with your child’s nursery.

The nursery will help you to complete a Deferred Entry Funding Request form (see attached). All of the information you and the nursery provide will be used to support the decision-making process. Given current Covid restrictions there will be no external observation or assessment meetings.

Applications to defer may be submitted at any point during the year, however, it is most helpful if they are submitted by 31st March. This is because the allocations process for August nursery places takes place during April and May and if the application has not been received, there may not be a space available in your child’s nursery at a later date.

ELC Registered Childminders

Should your child be accessing their ELC entitlement with a Registered Childminder and you wish to defer their entry to school, please ask your childminder to bring this to the attention of the Scottish Childminding Association Development Worker who supports the Council’s ELC framework for childminders. The SCMA Development Worker will assist in taking forward your application.

Children with Additional Support Needs

Where your child has significant additional support needs, as well as the Deferred Entry Funding Request Form, the head of the nursery should also complete and submit the Supporting Evidence Form (see attached). This helps us in planning how to best support your child’s needs.



Deferred Entry Funding Request

August to December Birthdate




The completed application for Deferred School Entry Form should be returned by the nursery to the ELC Team in City Chambers East, 40 John St, Glasgow G1 1JL.

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