by Diane Delaney, on behalf of Give Them Time
As seems to be the annual pattern, the Give Them Time campaign received lots of new enquiries at the beginning of the school term, as parents began to explore their legal right to defer and consider the best options/ outcomes for their children. We put out the following plea for help to LAs, partners and anyone working with under-fives.
Parents need non-judgemental, supportive information about their legal right to defer. They need information on the process within the Local Authority to apply for deferral funding. PLEASE, please, please do not put parents off applying – rather why don’t you engage in a supportive conversation?
Every year we hear volumes of stories about professionals and practitioners putting parents off deferring for a variety of reasons. If this is you, why not change your practice this year? Why not listen to the parent and engage in a discussion about their reasons for deferral? If you don’t agree with the parent, or don’t understand where they are coming from….why not try harder to understand rather than dismissing, ignoring the parents view and/ or concerns? This is about you learning and moving forward not pushing the parent away.
Regardless of the Local Authority’s position on deferral and how they allocate funding for deferral, please remember that a parent still has the right to defer, to make decisions about what is best for their child. Don’t make it harder for them, regardless of your views. We are asking everyone working in Early Learning and Childcare settings to proactively give parents information NOW about their legal right to defer, discuss the research around this, point them in the direction of accurate information on the law and the process to defer.
If you are an employee and you don’t know this info, find out now, so that when a parent asks you, you will know. See our website (https://givethemtime.org) and of course please point parents there so they can read it for themselves.
We would also recommend parents (and professionals) have a look at the Parent Club website (https://www.parentclub.scot/articles/can-my-child-defer-starting-school) for accurate info on the law. We would ask Local Authorities to get their published information both online and on paper sorted out just now so that it is accurate and ready to go when parents start asking in the next few weeks.
Our final plea is to leaders and politicians and anyone else with influence/ power. Please get rid of the biased information on your publications with no source/reference to your so-called ‘research’. Provide balance, there is plenty of scientific research out there. It is unfair on everyone to only provide one side of the argument. Parents need to make informed decisions so provide them with accurate, scientific information. You can also point them in the direction of Give Them Time and we can give the ‘lived experience’ viewpoint.
Please get rid of the doomsday sentences that you don’t apply to children born in January and February that have been deferring for decades without these headlines applied to them. Lets be fair, helpful and supportive this year!