Letter: Parents' fears

Sir: In view of Ofsted's new responsibilities for childminders, playgroups and nurseries, it would be too easy to get side-tracked into an unproductive demonising of Chris Woodhead and his growing empire. Such a personality focus would divert us from the issue at stake. Diane Coyle's article is closer to the mark when she refers to "our increasingly controlling and utilitarian vision of childhood" and to "micro-managing every detail of children's lives".

Ofsted's colonisation of childhood is just the latest example of a state- driven control-freakery running rampant through our culture and institutions, obsessed with measuring, assessing and controlling. It is a control-freakery, moreover, in which any notion of creative richness through diversity, pluralism and difference is sacrificed to the imposition of (to quote the education minister Margaret Hodge) "consistency across the country".

As Diane Coyle writes, "Experience cannot be taught." The damage that will be done to a generation of children's souls by being brought up in an adultcentric environment intent on monitoring and controlling children ever more closely - and where no one is assumed to be trustworthy - can scarcely be dreamt of.

Dr RICHARD HOUSE

Norwich

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