Age bias in the nursery;Letter

2nd April 1999 at 01:00
I AGREE whole-heartedly with the article, "Denied by their birthday" (TESS, March 23). I have been in correspondence with my local authority, Perth and Kinross, and the Scottish Office since May 1998 to try to get a funded place for my son Kelly at a local playgroup, which is a partner-provider of part-time pre-school education.

Kelly was born on January 27, 1994. The Scottish Office issued eligibility guidelines stating that only children born between March 1, 1994, and February 28, 1995, would get a funded place during the year August 1998 to July 1999.

I was told that he should be starting school in August 1998, but I chose to defer him as he simply wasn't ready for school at four-and-a-half.

It is the case that education authorities are inconsistent in dealing with deferred children. I am aware of children in postcode area FK15 in Stirling Council being funded during their deferred year, while I am in FK14 and cannot get funding.

Also, my local authority has "skimmed off" part of the funding to employ a pre-five officer. Why not get all the pre-school children into places before thinking about appointing yet more officials?

As pre-school education is rolled out to three year olds, many parents simply do not want five two-and-a-half-hour sessions per week for their children, yet the Scottish Office seems to be hell-bent on progressing with this action, before they've got it right for the four-year-olds.

As a parent, I want to do what is in the best interests of my child. Sending him to school at four-and-a-half was not right for him. He will go this coming August, looking forward to P1, after a full year of pre-school education with his peer group.

What worries me now is that there will be other children not ready for school in his class, whose parents couldn't cope with the financial burden of funding a deferred year themselves.

What are the effects on those children, their classmates, and the teachers?

Mary Carruthers Powmill, Dollar

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