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One borough's warm reception

I would like to clarify the position in Tower Hamlets concerning early-years admissions in light of your article headlined "Nine in 10 oppose admission at four" (TES, January 26).

We admit children (aged four and a half) to reception classes twice a year compared to almost half of local education authorities which now admit all children from the start of their fourth year and a small proportion which enter children termly as rising fives.

The research we commissioned from the Centre for Educational Research showed that parents were overwhelmingly in favour of this approach, primary school staff had a mixed view and nursery school staff were largely opposed. Of course, nurseries will lose children to reception classes earlier than was previously the case.

We realise the importance of ensuring that reception classes have facilities for quality education for four-year-olds. When the admission arrangements were changed we invested in additional outdoor play resources and in-service training. We have continued to consult on what further improvements are needed and are introducing greater flexibility for parents.

Almost 90 per cent of three and four-year-olds in the borough are in education, the highest figure in London, and one of which we are rightly proud. We remain confident that this excellent grounding will result in long-term benefits to all children.

ANNE SOFER Director of education and community services London borough of Tower Hamlets

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