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Deferring entry to P1 can nourish all children

All children who have yet to celebrate their fifth birthday by the start of P1 in August have the legal right to a further funded year of Early Years. There is one month left to apply.
Importantly, however, parents are still required to submit an application to state this, which has a deadline of 29th February 2024. Many families are unaware of their legal right for their mid-August 2019 – February 2020 born child to not start school this August.
Edinburgh Council’s online application process closes on 29th February, 2024.
Why is a later start to formal learning beneficial? Scotland is an outlier regarding starting school age, with only 12% of the nations worldwide starting school before age 6.
Watch this 12-min documentary by award-winning filmmaker, Saskia Anley-McCallum, who explores Scotland’s cultural values behind one of the youngest school starting ages in the world. Since being released, its been viewed more than a hundren thousand times, from Edinburgh to New Zealand:

Edinburgh Steiner School is an official supporter of Give Them Time, which successfully campaigned for a later start to formal learning for the youngest pupils embarking on their school career at four-years-old. Their efforts brought a law change that ended the birthday discrimination against children born in August – December, which now means all children in Scotland under five at the beginning of the academic year get the opportunity of a further funded year in a Waldorf kindergarten or mainstream nursery.


It is crucial education is child-centred, based on well-established principles of child development. Not only is there no advantage to early schooling, there is in fact significant social, emotional and academic disadvantages.




A playful foundation to academics published in Nursery Guide Edinburgh, examined the importance of play as child’s work in the younger years.


Providing an important alternative to mainstream independent education in the city, it has long been an ambition of the school that access to a Steiner education should not depend solely on the ability to pay fees. In this endeavour, it has been a partner provider of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) since 1991. All 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2-year-olds are given up to 1,140 hours early learning and childcare (around 30 hours a week during term time). Read on


A mixed-age Kindergarten environment that supports older children

Our experienced Early Years Waldorf educators proactively inform and support parents with a mid-August to February born child in their application to defer entry to P1. ESS has four Kindergartens, each with groups of children from age 3.5 – 6 years old and two Seedlings groups for children aged 2+. The mix of ages is an important part of the learning environment; and therefore places for older children are protected so as to keep this balance of Littles, Middles and Bigs.


Our School accepts applications throughout the academic year; and is registered with the UK Government’s Tax-Free Childcare Scheme; as well as offering bursaries to Kindergarten children not in receipt of ELC funding.


The transition to school here begins after a child’s sixth birthday, with flexibility and freedom for parents and the child’s Kindergarten leader to come to a decision collaboratively regarding when a child is ready for Class 1. This means that children in the first year of our Lower School are aged between 6 and 7 years old, shaped by a child-centred approach.