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LETTER OF THE WEEK

WEAPONS AND LIMITS

The letter 'Cowboys and Indians' (2 September) reminded me of an excellent training session held in an outstanding nursery when I first started childminding 11 years ago. It was about weapon-related play and it totally changed my attitude.

How can we have a zero tolerance policy when the world is not zero tolerant? Weapons are all around us, in the media, in films, and are, in some communities, an everyday item. I live in a rural community and it's not uncommon to see farmers or gamekeepers with cocked guns walking in the fields. Children in a setting may also have been directly affected in other communities where gun crime is high.

And how do you explain to a child 'not to play like that' when, for example, their fathers might be in the military and are welcomed back from conflicts as heroes? Also, it is now understood that some children need to act out events in their lives to sometimes find an ending.

The policy I have - and it's the same as with any game - is that if a game is upsetting another child, then it must stop and an explanation given as to why it is upsetting the other child.

And, by the way, I was born in 1967 and I loved playing Zorro with my homemade cape, mask and sword. Look at me now, I'm working with children!

Gillian Shields, childminder, Ely, Cambridgeshire

- Our letter of the week wins £30 worth of books

FUNDING WORRIES

I was both intrigued and appalled by the story 'Nursery project stalled by grant issue' (News, 16 September) which quoted a nursery owner who may lose her house as a result of funding being withheld and possibly clawed back.

It must be a deeply worrying time for many nurseries where managers and owners have allocated funds for work that has been approved and on the basis of this, have begun to work with project managers and begun sorting contracts.

There are also many nurseries who didn't actually get allocated funds, due to still going through the grants panel. We are among the many others who have put a great deal of time and effort into understanding how to improve quality and access and therefore basing our need around this.

The Government has to cut back on spending and of course some organisations will feel this more than others. Quality is a priority for all settings who wish to provide a high-level service and inclusive practice for all children. Therefore perhaps for many people this cutback has been disappointing and frustrating. As a nursery manager I was extremely frustrated and this can also be quite demoralising for a staff team who were part of the process.

In areas where more provision was needed to support the allocation of nursery places, this of course was of great concern. As a nursery manager I understand how important nursery is for children, both for their development and transition into school.

In light of all this I think nurseries do a great job and always work hard to maintain quality. There are lots of cheap and easy resources and ways of managing and improving quality. At this time we need to focus on the positives and keep moving forward.

Rebekah Clee, nursery manager, Hawthorns Private Day Nursery, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

SUPPORT FOR EYFS

I was disturbed by the article claiming that eight out of ten nurseries support the Early Years Foundation Stage. This might promote the livelihood of those advisers, lecturers, trainers and leaders who jumped on the bandwagon to support the enforced Labour government policy, but it was clear from the Department for Education survey that many practitioners were complaining bitterly of the unnecessary burden of accountability stealing away their quality time with children.

Let us not forget the thousands who resigned because their ethics were compromised and their lives made unendurable by the legal requirements.

Grethe Hooper Hansen, grandmother and retired teacher, by e-mail - Send your letters to ... The Editor, Nursery World, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP; letter.nw@haymarket.com; 020 8267 8401

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