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Vouchers are logically bankrupt

As the joint owner and supervisor of a nursery school accredited by the Pre-school Learning Alliance, I write to express my extreme concern at the details of the nursery voucher scheme, which we have received this week.

I have spent many hours trying to see how we can fulfil the requirements for validation and yet remain financially viable. The Government in its wisdom has not considered the logistics of the scheme at all, as the voucher system does not fit in with the constraints of the school year.

In Hampshire all four-year-olds leave for school in July as there is a single-entry policy. We shall be left with 34 three-year-olds, 24 of whom will receive vouchers at Easter 1997. We shall need to reserve 120 places for them, of which probably 50 will remain empty until Easter, as few parents can afford or wish to pay for five sessions.

We already have to reserve another 40 places for children who reach the age of two years nine months after Christmas and Easter. Thus from now on we shall be expected to run for every autumn term with at least 90 of 216 places empty.

If we close the sessions another organisation will book our premises. If we further cut back on staffing hours, we shall lose our very experienced and trained staff.

We are currently a popular and well-supported group which has catered for up to 80 children. If we cater for 12 fewer children and run half-empty, how will this increase provision in our rapidly-expanding village?

ANN HAMMOND 58 Sunderton Lane Clanfield Waterlooville Hants

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