Early entry to primary school

Only children whose fifth birthday falls between 1 March of the current year and the last day of February of the following year will automatically be admitted to Primary 1.

If your child's fifth birthday falls after the last day of February and you feel your child is ready to start Primary 1 you can make a request for early entry to primary school. Applications for early entry to primary school should be submitted in January each year in order to allow requests to be processed timeously. We will only consider applications for children whose parents live in East Dunbartonshire.

Please read the guidance notes below before requesting an application.

The application form can be obtained by emailing sharedservices.education@eastdunbarton.gov.uk

Guidance notes


Children start school aged between 4.5yrs and 5.5yrs, depending on when the child’s birthday falls.

Arrangements for entry to primary schools are on a once a year basis - at the start of the new session in August each year. Children whose 5th birthday falls between 1 March of that year and the last day of February of the following year will automatically be admitted to school.

Parents/carers whose child has a birthday after this date may request that their child be admitted early by making an early entry request. The main reason for submitting an early entry request would be that the parent/carer believes that a child’s educational or social needs cannot be met within an early years context.

Applications for early entry to school will only be considered for children whose parents/carers are resident in the East Dunbartonshire authority area.

Parents/carers can only make an early entry request for placement in their child’s local catchment school.

Procedures for early entry request

Parents/carers should inform the child’s Early Learning and Childcare Centre of their intention to make an early entry request as soon as possible, ideally this should be at the start of the child’s pre-school year at nursery. This allows early years staff to gather evidence to inform decision making processes.

In January of each year, local press advertisements will advise parents/carers of the procedures for enroling their child in primary school. Applications for early entry to school should be made at this time and must be submitted by 31 January 2023.

Early entry application forms are available from sharedservices.education@eastdunbarton.gov.uk.

In order to ensure your child's place at early learning and childcare is secure should your application for Early Entry be unsuccessful, parents/carers should also complete the required paperwork or application as follows on our early years how to apply page.

  • If you wish your child to return to the same early years centre, on the same pattern as their 3 year old place, you should confirm this by email to the Depute Head of Centre by the last day of February;
  • If your child attends a local authority early years centre and you wish your child to return to the same early years centre on an alternative pattern to their 3 year old place, you should complete the online Early Years Alteration Request Form. The closing date for this form is the last day of February.
  • If your child attends a funded provider early years centre or Childminder and you wish your child to return to the same early years centre or Childminder on an alternative pattern to their 3 year old place, you should liaise directly with the Centre Manager or Childminder, who will in turn liaise with the Council. The closing date for this information is the last day of February.
  • If you wish your child to attend a different early years centre for their 4 year old place, you should complete a new online application (new 3 or 4 year old application form).

Factors to consider

Parents/Carers should consider the following factors when considering an early entry
request to school:

  • The early level curriculum spans the two years of learning in Early Learning and Childcare Centres and Primary 1. The Curriculum for Excellence provides continuity for all children and young people aged from 3 to 18.
  • Some children will start learning at different levels earlier and others later, depending upon individual needs and aptitudes. The curriculum allows planning to ensure that children’s needs are met, including those children who are particularly high attaining.
  • Research highlights that an extended period of play-based early education makes a significant difference to learning and well-being through the primary school years (EPPE Project 2004)
  • There is little evidence to suggest that early entry to school offers long-term educational advantage and some evidence suggests that it may have a negative impact on children’s emotional wellbeing (Graw 2011)
  • When thinking about early entry, consideration should be given to the long term implications e.g. wellbeing on transition to secondary school.

Decisions about early entry requests

When making decisions about requests for early entry to school, all aspects of a child’s wellbeing need to be considered.

Early Years practitioners will use key aspects of Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) to assess a child’s wellbeing, learning and development. They will use the GIRFEC wellbeing indicators - Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included - to gather the views of the child, the parents/carers and other relevant information that will help to inform decisions. A collaborative report based on the child’s progress in literacy, numeracy, and health and wellbeing will be submitted to the East Dunbartonshire Council Early Years Community Assessment Team (EYCAT).

EYCAT will make a decision, based on the information gathered, as to whether an application for early entry to school should be granted.

Parents/carers will be notified of the outcome of an early entry request. If a request for early entry is successful, parents/carers will receive a letter to enrol their child in primary school.

If an early entry request is unsuccessful, parents/carers will be advised of this. It is not possible to make an appeal against this decision. 

The Local Authority Education service has discretion as to the school in which the child is placed. Where there are more requests than there are places available for the P1 stage at a particular school all requests will be considered in line with the council’s priorities for admission to school.


East Dunbartonshire Council policy is to provide free transport to all primary pupils who live one mile or more, by the recognised shortest safe walking route, and attend their catchment school. This policy is more than required legally, and therefore may be reviewed at any time.

If an early entry child is offered a place in the catchment area school, transport will be provided in accordance with this policy.

Further information

This information provides general guidance about requests for early entry to school. Other information on admission of children under school age to primary school may be found in the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc Act 2000 (Section 38).

In the first instance, early entry requests should be discussed with the child’s Early Learning and Childcare Centre. For additional information and advice contact:

Martyn Cosh – ASN Support Manager: 0300 123 4510
Sheena Fraser- Early Years Service Manager: 0300 123 4510