Scottish think tank slam free nursery system as '˜unfair'

A think-tank has renewed calls for an end to 'birthday discrimination' in entitlement to free nursery education.

Reform Scotland has called the current nursery system 'unfair and unnacceptable' Picture: Jon Savage

Reform Scotland said the current system for government-funded pre-school provision was “unacceptable and unfair” as some children are entitled to less early-years education than others.

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The organisation highlighted that as the legal entitlement starts the term after a child turns three, a child born in August will receive a full two years before starting school while a child born in September will receive only 18 months. Reform Scotland said the cost to parents using private nurseries could be as much as £2,800 and argued the scale of the “unfairness” would increase as the government moves to double the current entitlement.

In response to a Scottish Government consultation on the expansion, the think-tank called for provision to begin in the August two years before a child is due to start school, irrespective of their age at the time.

Research director Alison Payne said: “The Scottish Government has set a goal of closing the attainment gap. “However, many children start school already at a disadvantage.”