Local authorities to pilot extra funded childcare from 2021.

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FAMILIES in five Scottish local authorities who choose to defer entry to primary one for their child next year will automatically receive an extra year of funded early learning and childcare (ELC).

The pilot projects are to help understand how many parents decide to take up the offer of a further year of funded ELC – ahead of it becoming a universal right from August 2023.

Currently, it is up to councils whether to fund ELC for children born between August and December who defer entry to primary one.

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Families in five local authorities who defer entry to primary one for their child next year will automatically receive an extra year of funded early learning and childcare (ELC).

Funding of nearly £3 million is being provided in Angus, Argyll and Bute, Falkirk, Scottish Borders and Shetland Island councils.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “From August 2023, all families will be able to access a further year of funded quality early learning and childcare (ELC) if they want their child to defer entry to primary school.

“This will ensure that all children who defer have an equal right to funded ELC if their parent or carer feels it is in their best interests.

“These pilots will allow us to better understand the likely uptake of the extra year of funded childcare and help local authorities plan accordingly.

“Any families considering deferral, including those in non-pilot local authorities, should contact their local authority and visit the Parent Club website to find out more.”

All children who are four years old at the start of the school year can currently be deferred and start primary one the following year.

Children who were born in  January or February who defer school entry are automatically entitled to another year of funded ELC.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, COSLA spokesperson for Children and Young People, said:“We are pleased to have agreed with the Scottish Government the phased implementation of funded ELC places for children who defer their entry into Primary one.

“Learning from the pilots, starting next year, will be key to planning for the full rollout by August 2023.

“As we work at pace towards the revised date for the introduction of the 1140 hours ELC expansion next August, local government remains committed to ensuring that families can access high quality, flexible ELC. “