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Work together for early years

I was sorry to read David Hart of the National Association of Head Teachers accuse the Pre-school Learning Alliance of "sour grapes" (TES, October 3).

We have not attacked headteachers or schools. Indeed, we are concerned that already limited school resources are being stretched even further.

However, the fact remains that pre-schools are being forced to close because four-year-olds are being admitted into reception classes much earlier than previously.

We have stated time and again that school and local authorities changed their admissions policies in order to recoup as much income as possible from the nursery vouchers scheme. We understand the financial implications for schools if they do not admit four-year-olds, but the need of those children must surely come first.

Teachers in reception classes of more than 30 children cannot provide the same amount of individual attention that those four-year-olds receive in pre-schools and indeed, need. This attention is vital for the future well being and educational attainment of those children. That is quite clear.

Instead of a constant round of claim and counter claim, surely it would be better for schools, teachers' associations, central and local government and voluntary organisations to work together to ensure that the money available in early years education is spent to benefit the children and nothing else? In the current climate of partnership and co-operation, this would seem to be the most obvious way forward.

MARGARET LOCHRIE Chief executive Pre-school Learning Alliance 69 Kings Cross Road London WC1 TES october 17 1997 chris Thomond Letters should be kept as brief as possible. They should be sent to The Editor, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY Fax: 0171 782 3200e-mail: letters@tes1.demon.co.uk

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