Quality is the real nurseries issue

26th May 1995 at 01:00
Tony Travers (TES, May 5) is correct in his description of the funding nightmare which could be the result of the Government's vow to provide a nursery place for every four-year-old, but the Government must take account of the high priority which many education authorities have placed on nursery education over many years.

In order to deliver the Prime Minister's promise, it would be quite wrong to penalise those education authorities which have already made provision by targeting resources at those which haven't.

If the service were made statutory, then the Standard Spending Assessment mechanism could be used to distribute the resources, and the provision would be made.

It should be remembered that the LEAs already spending above SSA on a nursery service are doing so at the expense of the other services they provide.

The more important discussion on providing for children under the age of five is to do with quality. We must ensure that all children receive nursery education which is appropriate and of high quality, in terms of staffing, accommodation and resources. Funding mechanisms should not determine the provision, they should serve it.

The Association of London Government will, of course, be responding fully to the Government's proposals: a response based on LEAs' long experience of providing high-quality nursery education.

SHEILA KNIGHT Association of London Government 36 Old Queen Street London SW1H

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