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In reference to lowering the age of children going to school, to four years old, for them to attend school for at least 15 hours a week, either mornings or afternoons, who are the Government trying to kid? They say it is in the child's interest and will improve their chances of keeping up with other children.

In other countries children start school at a later age than here and start learning to read later, and they do not suffer - in fact, they are quite often better off.

I believe the real reason is that schools have been moaning to the education secretary because from next April they will be on a level playing field with private and voluntary sector providers, as far as recruitment is concerned, in the pre-schools that are attached to school. Previously schools enjoyed being able to claim funding for the children's places in multiples of 13 and not like the rest of us, who could only claim on actual head counts.

These children of the future need to be able to enjoy their childhood as it should be, rather than encounter indoctrination. The freedom of choice is being taken away from parents more and more, and our children will become increasingly institutionalised, rather than growing up to have freedom of choice or freedom of speech themselves.

The Government keeps saying that they are helping small businesses, but by implementing these proposals they will be driving a lot of PVI providers out of business.

John Brookes, chairman, Applejacks Pre-School Nursery, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire


In the 4 December issue of Nursery World there were two news stories about the Early Years Foundation Stage - 'Tories would change EYFS' and 'Universal free places plan scrapped'. Then, in Analysis, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg describes the EYFS as 'overly prescriptive' and says practitioners are 'overburdened with pointless regulation that puts greater emphasis on the ability to fill in forms than look after children'.

It is clear that the EYFS is beginning to unravel. Good news. It is excessively bureaucratic and burdensome, particularly for a hard-pressed, underpaid but committed workforce.

More than that, it is a case of early years pedagogy by numbers. In the EYFS, there are five outcomes, four themes, four principles, 16 commitments, six areas of learning, six age phases (or stages, it's not quite clear), 28 aspects, 70 early learning goals, 299 development matters and 13 assessment scales.

Seasonally thinking, perhaps this could be set to the tune of 'The Twelve Days Of Christmas'.

Peter Silverton, London

LETTER OF THE WEEK - Real live equipment

The debate about buggies (Letters and 'Seeing eye to eye', 4 December) raises important questions about young children's need for generous communication and attention.

Suzanne Zeedyk's research is valuable, but her studies focus on under-twos. Babies and young toddlers are likely to use buggy time to nap as well as chat. But older toddlers and over-twos are interested in where they are going. Of course, the buggy pusher needs to stop and look, pull up and chat. But the great interest for children in getting out and about in their neighbourhood is that they can recognise what is coming up and anticipate interesting sights. The excitement about a fire engine is that you can see and hear it coming - not watch it rush away from your view. Children who have plenty of adult attention throughout the day will not be deprived just for the length of a buggy ride with an interesting purpose.

We should be worried about the numbers of young children who cannot hold a conversation or express their interests and views. But I am concerned about any message that reversing buggy orientation is the main solution. I have already observed adults on the mobile phone as they push a backward-facing buggy - and what does that say to the thoroughly ignored baby or child? We need to focus less on the equipment with wheels and more on the equipment with legs and a voice!

Jennie Lindon, chartered psychologist and early years specialist, London

- Letter of the Week wins £30 worth of books

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