Until recently a handful of Labour councils were standing out against the Government's concept of partnership to deliver the pledge of places for all four-year-olds, and from 2002 for all three-year-olds as well. The need to find more accommodation and staff has prompted the change, more so than a political change of heart. But parents will welcome wider choice, especially for the youngest children. And the private sector will feel vindicated in its campaign for all parts of the country to treat its schools in the same way.
Not everybody wears a happy smile, however. More provision is creating a staffing and training crisis, as we reported two weeks ago. Classroom assistants sought for primary schools may come from the same pool as new nursery staff. There is a need to reaffirm the role of care staff in nurseries, to maintain, develop and fund training opportunities and to make a reasonably rewarded, as well as rewarding career structure for those who want it. The role of trained teachers in nurseries underscores the urgency of a parallel structure for other staff.