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The Independent Online
As the parent of a four-year-old living in the pilot scheme area of rural Norfolk, I have received nursery education vouchers. A list of local providers that will supply nursery places in exchange for the vouchers is included. There are 16 local education authority primary schools, 20 voluntary playgroups and a couple of genuine nursery schools. All are established. None have been set up in response to the scheme. The Government evidently expects provision to be market led.

In her introductory booklet, the Secretary of State commends the scheme as giving me the chance to choose the nursery education that suits my child best. Assuming I am unwilling to drive 20 miles or more a day, I am actually limited to whatever the village school in association with the local playgroup is able to provide.

And what is this? The four-year-olds will be absorbed into class one of the (three classes) village school along with the five, six and some seven-year-olds already there. Class sizes, which have just fallen below 30, will climb to the mid-thirties again. Children of statutory school age will lose out as the hard-pressed class teacher and under-resourced building struggle to cope with an increase of both age range and class size.

At present the local education authorities cannot properly afford to find primary education from five and the Government would be better advised to put its cash into existing schools instead of supporting the questionable merits of relieving parents of daytime contact with, and responsibility for, their four-years-olds.

Clem Vogler,

Foulsham, Norfolk.

Send your letters to Wendy Berliner, Education Pages Editor, The Independent, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. Fax: 0171-293 2056. Please include a daytime telephone number.

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