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Take your partners;Leading Article;Opinion

A RALLY FOR private schooling is uncommon in Scotland. But nearly 100 parents in Kilmarnock held a meeting to ask East Ayrshire for greater freedom in pre-school education. The council is among those not yet funding places in outside nurseries for four-year-olds, despite the Government's insistence on partnerships. One parent pointed out that when funding for three-year-olds becomes available in August, his daughter will not be eligible unless she attends a local authority nursery.

Regrettably, some councils blessed with adequate places shun other forms of care and education just as they have always disregarded independent school education. But ingrained prejudice has no place, and most councils will have to rely on facilities outwith their own if the Government's target of universal three-year-old provision by 2002 is to be realised.

More and more local partnerships depend on a trained teacher being employed in a private nursery for the pre-school year group. This means proprietors confronting local authority conditions of service, for the market is competitive. Yet private providers commend themselves to parents by offering longer hours and fewer holidays.

Equally, the General Teaching Council has reminded local authorities of their responsibility for probationers working in the independent sector. In some cases the only qualified teacher will be a probationer, who needs support to achieve full registration. Partnerships to implement Government policy are imposing unfamiliar disciplines all round.

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