councils refuse funding for four-year-old children who defer the start of primary one

December 2, 2021

Parents can still face thousands in nursery fees when deferring school for four-year-olds

Parents are calling for an end to the postcode lottery that sees some forced to pay thousands of pounds in nursery fees because a few councils refuse funding for four-year-old children who defer the start of primary one.

While 21 councils agreed to all requests for funding for four-year-olds to stay at nursery for an extra year in 2021, freedom of information requests submitted by campaigners showed that 11 local authorities refused 53 of those applications made by parents.

Campaigners said that while “huge improvements” in the number of councils accepting applications in recent years were encouraging and demonstrated the success of parental pressure, they “could not celebrate” while the decision for some parents to defer still came down to the ability to pay.

Every child who will not be five at the start of the school year in August is legally allowed to postpone their start date until the following year. But while those with birthdays in January and February are automatically given funding to remain at nursery, the decision to fund  those with birthdays from September to December remains discretionary until 2023.

A total of 1,807 applications for primary school deferral on those grounds were made for the 2021/22 academic year, with some parents citing the impact of lockdown and Covid restrictions on their child’s development as a reason.

Artwork by Jane Heaney

The full story is on The Ferret website

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