Extra help sought for the very young

8th December 2000 at 00:00
A WORKING group set up to consider the complex cases of children whose parents defer their entry to primary school has recommended additional pre-school support for the very youngest.

The group, which was chaired by a senior official from the Scottish Executive Education Department, believes that those children born in January and February and whose parents put off their primary school entry until August in the following year should be legally entitled to additional pre-school education.

The provision of pre-school places for children born between September and December whose parents choose not to send them to school the following August will continue to be at the discretion of education authorities.But the authorities will be expected to draw up new criteria so the exercise of their discretion is more consistent than it is at present.

The working group was set up following concern by MSPs during the parliamentary passage of the new education Act that some children did not automatically get a pre-school place and might be forced to enter primary school at too young an age.

Around 2,700 children defer entry, which is 4.5 per cent of the primary one cohort. But the working group believes this will rise to around 9 per cent at a cost to the local authorities of pound;4.1 million for the JanuaryFebruary group and another pound;2m for the remainder.

The Executive will issue its response later.

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