Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart has demanded that funding be put in place from this August to support parents who wish to defer their child starting Primary 1.
Her call comes as figures obtained by the BBC show that over half of Scotland’s councils have seen a jump in the number of parents requesting to defer their child’s start.
Scottish Liberal Democrats campaigned for the new legal right to defer to come into force this August. However, legislation brought forward by SNP ministers means this will not exist across Scotland until 2023, leaving some parents to pay an extra £4,500 for an extra year of early learning and childcare.
When this was presented in parliament, the Scottish Liberal Democrat proposal to cover this cost from August was rejected by SNP, Labour, Green and Tory MSPs who passed the legislation unamended.
Ms Wishart said:
“More families than ever before will now be wondering if their four-year-old is ready to start school this August.
“Children have missed out on so much because of the virus. We know how critical the early years are to life chances and attainment.
“But the SNP have stubbornly refused to make the legal tweak needed to make sure parents can make the decision based on what’s right for their family – as opposed to what they can afford. As a result, some will be faced with a £4,500 price tag come August.
“Children only start school once. The government need to remove this extra financial barrier and empower families to do what they feel is right.”