Let them stay at nursery;Letter

5th March 1999 at 00:00
PARENTS, it seems, cannot win. A few years ago councils complained that primary schools were being asked by parents to take four-year-olds. Now the complaint (TESS, February 12) is that some parents want to keep their children in a nursery school when the option to join primary 1 is on offer.

There are commendable attempts to harmonise what children experience in nursery with the primary 1 curriculum. Baseline assessment can be carried out in either setting and should be welcome to parents provided its aim is to gauge a child's level of achievement rather than to form the base which the Government has long wanted to establish so as to build comparative tables about primary and secondary teachers' abilities in "adding value".

The spread of nursery education, its availability in many cases in units attached to primary schools, and the establishment of a curriculum which leads three and four-year-olds towards the level A work of P1 and P2 all suggest that directing parents towards one or other sector for the care and education of their four to five-year-olds is undesirable and a throwback to the days when council officials knew best.

It is true that councils' present concerns are financial. They do not get Government support for five-year-olds still in nursery. That should be a matter for negotiation between central and local government and not remain an inhibitor on parents choosing the best option for their child.

Susan Cameron Morningside Road Edinburgh

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