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Wait until seven

As a teacher living and working in Austria, I was saddened by your front-page report "Steiner nursery failed by inspectors" (TES, January 24). It seems strange that a government which boasts of parental choice does not seem to agree with the government of a European Union country offering its residents a far higher standard of living and education.

Here, it is not considered necessary to teach children formally until they are seven. I have had many an intellectually demanding conversation in English (a foreign language here) with an Austrian 14-year-old. I cannot say the same of as many English pupils of the same age.

The creative needs of a young child can develop much more easily than the need to read. Is playing a musical instrument of less value? Any educational development in a Steiner nursery would be nurtured, but it wouldn't be forced or measured before the child shed its baby teeth. Is that sufficient grounds to prevent caring parents from choosing a stress-free nursery education for their child?

CATHERINE WALKER Schloss Streitdorf 2004 Niederhollabrunn Austria "Opportunities to foster wonder are at their peak": pupils at the Rudolph Steiner School, Forest Row

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