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Staff quality is missing in minister's nursery scheme;Letter

I welcome education minister Estelle Morris's commitment to good quality nursery education, but her framework appears to have its main struts missing.

In her eloquent two-column exposition (TES, January 2) of the Government's intention to extend opportunities for early education and require local authorities to formulate early years development plans there is no mention of the need for highly-trained specialist early-years educators.

However, research and experience in many countries indicates that all the good things that can follow from quality nursery education depend on the skills and qualifications of the professional early-years educators who work with young children.

We cannot afford to pussyfoot around this issue: quality nursery education can only be provided by teams led by graduate early-years specialist teachers.

Other kinds of provision may have strengths but they are not nursery education.

Should we be worried by this non-accidental omission in the minister's paper? In the light of her comment on the "particular strengths" of the maintained sector in early education, I think we should be very worried. Qualified nursery teachers and heads in this sector will be astounded to hear that their strength is not in child development, or cognitive understanding, or even the early- years curriculum, but in familiarising children with the school environment!

MARIAN WHITEHEAD

170 Shakespeare Way

Drayton, Norwich

TES january 16 1998

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