22 May 2019

Today Scottish Labour called for the Scottish Government to legislate to give all young people their entitlement to free childcare from the age of three to beginning school.

Currently, if a parent defers a child born in September to December entry to primary one – something they are legally entitled to do – it is up to the local authority if they will fund the child’s early learning and childcare for that year.

Citing the ‘Give Them Time’ campaign - a campaign set up to close this loophole – Iain Gray pressed the Childcare Minister to implement the change.

There is a legislative anomaly between parents legal right to defer, and children’s right to funded ELC.

When asked repeatedly by Mr Gray if she was comfortable with poorer families having to make a decision whether they should send their child to school when they don’t deem them to be ready, or withdrawing their child from ELC altogether as they can’t afford to self-fund, Minister Maree Todd told Mr Gray, that ‘you call it anomalous, I call it flexible.’

The call came as the Education and Skills Committee considered secondary legislation concerning the expansion of funded childcare hours.

Iain Gray MSP, Labour Spokesperson for Education, said:

"The Give Them Time campaign have in a short time raised awareness of the exemptions based on month of birth that can be applied, and the postcode lottery that exists across the country due to local authority discretion over deferral requests.

"The core issue is a national policy contradiction between the legal right to defer that exists and that three and four year olds have a legal right to funded ELC hours. It makes no sense then, that exercising one legal right removes the other. "The only logical solution is to change the law, protect the right to defer and the right to funded hours - removing the problems with the postcode lottery and the process. "As is becoming normal within this Government’s education policy, they are not listening."
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