Letter: Funding undergrads and under-fives

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Sir: Your report on provision of nursery education can only be a disappointment for those with a real interest in education. Evidence has continued to mount in this country over the last 15 years that the return in social/

educational terms for quality education in early years is considerable and not only, but in particular, for lower-income families.

Admission of 'rising fives' to reception classes may well (as you rightly say) be a vote-catching ploy, but it can only have educational value if sufficiently resourced to provide the appropriate curriculum, staffing, space and equipment for four-year-old children. Anyone who has seen a large reception class of five-year-olds disrupted by one or two four-year- olds 'thrown in' will appreciate the despair of reception teachers.

There can be no justification for transferring financial resources in already overstretched school budgets from one age group to another. The Government must provide extra money if its cynical cost-cutting proposal is to achieve real value for our 'early years' children.

Yours faithfully,


Horsham, West Sussex

15 March

The writer is a member of the West Sussex County Council Education Committee.