Pre-school provision must be professional

7th February 1997 at 00:00
Recently I attended an exhibition about the excellent start given to pre-school children who attend local authority nursery schools in Edinburgh. I came away feeling so sad that qualified, dedicated staff have to keep justifying their existence and work with the under-fives by means of exhibitions, public meetings and articles.

For years government and local authorities have made cuts in expenditure for nursery schools and, even worse, threatened closures. It is easy for these cuts and threats to be made because attendance at nursery schools is not enforceable by law.

The voucher system is not the answer. Many of the vouchers will be offered to and used by inappropriate establishments that offer a second-rate education provided by unqualified staff - just childminding centres.

Every three to five-year-old child, if so wanted by their parents, should have the right to a quality education given by qualified staff in an appropriate setting. It is the duty of the state to provide this and honour the commitment. The country will reap the reward in later years.

JEAN SHAW (retired nursery nurse) Letham Mains The Holdings, Haddington.

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