Letter: Effects of nursery education

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Sir: It is depressing that Paddy Holmes, a headteacher and chairwoman of the Independent Schools Association, should be so unaware of practice in neighbouring countries that she thinks we are behaving "like animals" to send two-year-olds to school (report, 24 April).

In several of our competitor nations, up to 90 per cent of pre-school children are in organised education; in France, this includes a third of two-year-olds. And they are not there for baby-minding, while their careless mothers pursue their careers, but because parents believe that it will improve their educational performance, which statistics show to be true.

All our rapidly accumulating knowledge about the mental capacities of very young children ought to persuade us that, if there has to be a choice, money spent at the beginning of a child's education is likely to have more cost-effective benefits than that spent 10 years later.

M E Martin

Liverpool

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