By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP, pictured right, has called on the Scottish Government to bring forward more ambitious legislation to secure the rights of parents who want to defer their child starting school.
Following the campaign run by ‘Give them Time’, the Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd, below left, agreed on the need for legislation to guarantee funded ELC for August to December-born children who defer starting school, however legislation presented this week would only introduce this entitlement from August 2023.
Beatrice Wishart MSP said: “If the Scottish Government genuinely accepts that parents have the right to defer when they believe it is the best thing to do for their child, then it should make the change now and cover the costs.
“I’m astonished that the SNP Government is happy with a £4,500 price tag until 2023 for parents to make the best decision for their child.
“When Parliament debated this last October the Minister agreed that legislation was needed and to expect this before Parliament wrapped up in the spring. That gave a false impression that this would be ready for the P1 intake in August 2021.
“Children only start school once, so there is only one chance to get this right for every child. Leaving this financial barrier in place until 2023 has real implications for parents’ decision making and means three cohorts of children will miss out on guaranteed funding for deferral.
“The Minister must think again and return to Parliament with more ambitious plans.”