IoS letters, emails & online postings (22 September 2013)

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Three cheers for Janet Street-Porter's strong support of our young children needing time far more than they do tests ("Kids need time more than tests", 15 September). The vast majority of early-years educators would argue that it is precisely children from deprived backgrounds who need a later start to quasi-formal learning, because they have not yet had the opportunity to develop the kinds of physical, social and emotional competencies that are an essential prerequisite for formal learning to be effective.

Without these crucial foundations for learning (which take time and cannot be rushed), it is these very children who will experience failure at an early age, and who will often grow up with that deeply ingrained self-image. It is the "Too Much Too Soon" campaign's approach which is the true friend of the deprived children that ministers are rightly so concerned about, and not the misguided "earlier is better" ideology that informs current Department for Education thinking.

Dr Richard House

Senior lecturer in early childhood studies University of Winchester, Hampshire

It is disingenuous for Joan Smith to claim that Prince William has undertaken only 88 official engagements and is therefore unworthy of our respect ("Who but a prince gets a year's paternity leave", 15 September). These have had to be fitted into the operational life of an air force pilot. In this case, one who has been responsible, as flight commander, for some 149 rescues. Hovering a Wessex helicopter over dangerous sites has nothing to do with privilege. Privileged he may be, but some respect and recognition is due, not to the man who has left his job, but to a man who has not shirked what that job entails at any stage. I dare say those he and his crews rescued will always be grateful for his real skills and dedication to their welfare.

Richard A John

Brixham, Devon

I greatly admire John Lichfield's writings on all things French, but when it comes to art history, I think he may need to re-sit the examination ("Move over Impressionism … ", 15 September). Yes, the Impressionists did paint modern life and the effects of sunlight, but the English Pre-Raphaelites had beaten them to it by 20 years. Witness Madox Brown's haunting image of emigration The Last of England, his monumental Work or Holman Hunt's The Awakening Conscience. And 1914 did not represent the beginning of the Aesthetic movement, but its end. It began in 1860 with a painting like Whistler's Symphony in White: Number One. 1860 marked the end of the first phase of Pre-Raphaelitism, and the beginning of its medievalising and Symbolist phase, which is what this exhibition seems to be about.

Paul Street

Leeds, Yorkshire

We apologise for the error, which was not John Lichfield's but was introduced during editing

A spokesperson at the London arms fair claimed the trade is worth between £11bn and £22bn to the British economy. Maybe, but not to the global economy. Most people think of the economy as commerce between nations and not as a global whole. When they do, they will realise we are not going to improve the lot of everyone on this planet until we stop making things that harm our collective endeavours for a better life.

Geoff Naylor

Colden Common, Hampshire

D J Taylor declares: "... 'northern' popular music... makes a virtue of its dolefulness and sexual fatalism. You doubt whether Joy Division could have come from Crawley" (15 September). Yet Crawley is the origin of dolefulness doyens The Cure, and is not far from Haywards Heath, crucible of melancholic Morrissey pasticheurs Suede. DJ Taylor's home town Norwich is also the base of the Cure tribute band Liqueur (get it?).

F Harvey


You report that a survey of Lib Dem members indicates they would prefer to work with Labour after the next election (15 September). These are the people Lib Dem president Tim Farron referred to in his address as living on "Planet Beard". Perhaps there's hope for British politics.

Keith Flett

London N17

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