Inspectors urged for nursery schools

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SCHOOLS' inspectors should monitor standards in the new state nurseries planned for all four-year-olds, child-care experts say.

Private and voluntary organisations are likely to receive extra cash to provide pre- school places. But there have been warnings that state funding should only be given to those who meet certain levels of facilities and training.

John Major revealed on Friday that plans for universal nursery education for three and four-year-olds have been scaled down. Places will be provided for all four-year- olds, he said, but they will be in primary school reception classes and playgroups as well as in nursery schools.

The Pre-school Playgroups Association, which cares for more than 40 per cent of three and four-year-olds, has already presented a paper to other early-years groups calling for organisations to work to mutually agreed standards.

Sir Christopher Ball, director of learning at the Royal Society of Arts and author of the Start Right report on nursery education, said: 'Gillian Shephard has to come up with more than just taking in a few more four-year-olds. She has to have a proper system of inspection and accreditation.'