Listed below are commonly asked questions by parents and carers who are considering delaying their child's start to primary school.

How do I know my child is ready for school? I am concerned they may not cope

Primary 1 classes are very well equipped to meet a wide range of needs and do not require children to have certain skills to start school. Children have access to developmentally appropriate learning experiences and will learn through play. It is important to avoid focusing on what your child is not yet able to do, especially in relation to reading and writing. Young children have a well-developed ability to learn new skills when supported by skilled practitioners. There is no expectation, for example, children will be able to independently read and write certain words.

Primary teachers work closely with early learning and childcare staff to ensure that information about your child's learning and achievements are passed on.

Staff will also share other information that will help the teacher support your child's learning, for example friendship groups, preferred ways of working and learning, key adults and progress in learning.

What is the difference between early learning and childcare and primary 1?

The Early Level of Curriculum for Excellence ensures that there is continuity and progression of experiences and outcomes from ELC to primary 1. Children's experiences in primary 1 are aligned to those in ELC. Experiences are active and support how best how young children learn and develop through play.

What happens if the staff at my child's nursery disagree with my decision to defer?

Whilst it is important that decisions are taken jointly by parents and professionals, ultimately, the final decision to defer rests with parents as this is a parental choice.

Do I still need to register my child for primary 1?

You either choose to defer or register your child for primary school. You do not need to do both.

What can I do to support my child's transition from nursery to primary school?

To help support your child to make the most positive start you can:

  • Listen and talk to your child about this change. Use positive language and encourage them to feel excited and ready for the next stage.
  • Involve your child in getting ready for school by helping choose the things they will need, for example their uniform, lunchbox, schoolbag.
  • Support school staff in getting to know your child, let them know about interests and health issues.
  • Keep in touch with the school about anything that may affect your child's learning.
  • Find out how the school will communicate with you.
  • Talk to your school if you have questions or concerns.

What if my child has additional support needs?

Children with additional support needs are supported throughout all stages of their education particularly at points of transition. With effective communication and teamwork, children's strengths and development needs are planned for and put in place for when children begin Primary 1.

Are there advantages to delaying my child's entry into Primary 1?

Despite a vast range of support and developmentally appropriate learning experiences with Primary 1 classes, some children can benefit from an additional, carefully planned year at nursery. This is individual to each child.

Will there be implications for my child later on if they are deferred?

It is important to consider your child's whole school career when making the decision to defer. In Scotland, young people can leave secondary school at 16. Children who are deferred will be the eldest in their cohort and this is worth reflecting upon when making your decision.

Should I discuss delaying my child's entry into Primary 1 with nursery staff?

This is highly recommended. Staff in early learning and childcare settings will be able to discuss deferring starting Primary 1 and offer information about transition. They will be able to alleviate any concerns you may have and give further information about Primary 1.

What if I change my mind?

If you change your mind before your child takes up their deferred placement, every effort will be made to provide a primary school place at your child's catchment school.

Once children are deferred and begin their deferred year, the decision is unable to be reversed at any point in your child's education.