Experts disputed popular notions that early years care and education undermine the bond between mother and child. Professor Colwyn Trevarthen, former head of psychology at Edinburgh University, suggested that quality of provision was the main factor.
Margy Whalley from the Pen Green Centre in Northamptonshire said she had seen "very close parent-child bondings in pre-school settings". Eric Wilkinson of Glasgow University dismissed as "bunkum" the British fear of maternal deprivation if very young children attended pre-school classes.
The extension of education to parents of pre-school children as well as the children was a repeated refrain. Professor Trevarthen observed: "Cases of very difficult and troubled children almost always have their origins in very poor family support for children's natural motivation to communicate."