Nursery profit is not only motive

17th September 2004 at 01:00
Helen Sanderson, in her Talkback article (TES, August 20) makes claims such as: "the staff, 50 per cent of whom are unqualified, cannot be bothered to take the children out every day", and "these are business people with an eye for making money".

As I am one of those business people I would like to point out that nurseries are extremely tightly governed. In fact, in comparison to primaries, which also provide an excellent standard of care, they can sometimes feel as if they are in a strait-jacket.

Imagine the surprise of an infant leaving the 8:1 child-staff ratio of a nursery on a Friday and starting school three days later with a ratio of up to 30:1.

Imagine if, every time a parent complained about the care offered to their child, two inspectors entered their school and scrutinised the records, interrogated all the staff and spoke to the children about the care you give them, would you still be under-regulated?

What if all your parents had true choice and, having chosen your school in the first place, simply removed their child without speaking to you, leaving you to chase up any monies?

I do not know a single head who does not worry that they too are just running a business.

Surely the issue is not solely that of regulations, it is also about providing care for children which affords respect, allows age-appropriate discipline, and enables children to develop to their full potential.

It is not a case of decrying staff who are under 22-years-old, many of whom are superb carers, but of looking deeper into how those staff relate to children and how they can engage the imagination and fly together.

Education has been tossed on the tide of politicians for many years and much criticism has been aimed at the profession. I do hope that the same is not going to be case for nurseries who strive to provide excellent and affordable care to children, one of whom may be yours.

Nursery owner

Preston, Lancashire

(Name and address supplied)

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