When is a nursery not a nursery?

20th October 2000 at 01:00
YOUR headline "Baby classes to come" (TES, October 6) illustrates the confusion about the definition of "nursery", a word used to mean both nursery schooling for three-year-olds and day-nursery care for the under-twos (that is, child-care). The distinction is much more than an academic one.

Your leader is optimistic in believing that child-care for nought to two-year-olds in disadvantaged areas could give countless children a better start in life.

How young are babies to be placed in group care? It is only in recent years that we have seen babies in day nurseries. Since the war th preferred form of care for very young children who could not be with their own mothers was in a family setting, with a relative, a nanny or with a child-minder. Some research points to group-care as not being the best care for under-ones.

Good day-care is extremely expensive and I wait to see if chains of nurseries develop as has happened with nursing homes for elderly people. A national newspaper noted recently that an American company aims to set up day nurseries here and clearly "there was money to be made".

Mrs S Millington

Waverley Road

Weybridge, Surrey

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