Nursery vouchers have created "an extraordinary, labyrinthine structure" to establish "a market which no one wants and from which no one benefits", says John Travers, director of education in North Ayrshire, one of the four pilot areas chosen by the Government.
Mr Travers, incoming president of the Association of Directors of Education, told the association's conference in Dunblane yesterday (Thursday) his authority had seriously underestimated difficulties in setting up 700 new nursery places.
He said: "Initial Government statements might lead you to believe that vouchers have been a great success. A huge increase in provision, a very high uptake. But we have to be careful to distinguish between new nursery places and the voucher mechanism."
His own authority had very low provision and it was only natural parents would jump at new places. "It would extraordinary if they did not," he said.