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Open questions to Thom Crabbe and Dr Meehan: Thank you for your explanation about the New Leaders programme in Nursery World (30 September). I fully appreciate the philosophy behind attracting 'new blood' to the sector, but I have some questions about the exclusion of early years degree holders which have not been addressed.

My career has not been in early years, but six years ago I decided to do a degree and deliberated over a geography or an early years degree and obviously took the wrong option to qualify for the New Leaders programme.

Please can you explain what 'different skills and fresh way of looking' a geography (or any other) degree would benefit early years in a way that an early years degree can't? Is there a cluster of nurseries expecting a tsunami sometime soon? Or, more significantly, how does an in-depth knowledge of children and childhood invalidate my skills, creativity and personal aptitude acquired in other fields and sectors?

Or is CWDC assuming that they have already got me on board and so I don't need a carrot? My discussions with many early years students across the country suggest that EYPS is currently a second class option. How is that raising the workforce status, and what is CWDC going to do to retain high achievers in the PVI sector?

You point to the success of the Teach First programme; however, they restrict entry based on having a degree with relevant curriculum content. Isn't that the opposite of the New Leaders requirements?

This is not a similar opposition to the full EYPS pathway. That was about the inclusion of inexperience. This is about the exclusion of relevant knowledge.

Name and address supplied

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The nursery managers' comments in the article on social networking (Let's Talk, 23 September) are, on the whole, surprisingly out of touch and negative. Social networks are still relatively new, so the effects and repercussions are relatively unknown. However, with the current investment levels, both financial and technological, there seems no going back. According to many articles, the numbers and age groupings of people joining is on the increase.

Trying to 'ban' social network membership will no doubt prove to be as effective as trying to prevent staff from watching television. It would be in managers' interests to become better informed by personally exploring the medium. The greatest irony in managers' comments was on staff being 'professionals' and acting accordingly - if only this were reflected in staff wages!

In all seriousness, social networking sites have the potential to be used as a gauge for future (as well as continued) employment, a social form of psychometric testing. I expect that in the future, astute management and staff in all sectors will recognise this potential and use it accordingly.

Frances Turnbull, early years music specialist, Musicaliti


With reference to 'The Sector in Numbers' (Analysis, 26 August), please may I bring your attention a paragraph that I believe to be misleading. 'Childminder numbers fell 9 per cent between 2008 and 2009 to 51,000, while the number of registered childminders remained much higher at 63,600 (though down from 72,900 in 2003).'

This paragraph does not clearly explain the differences in the numbers. It reads as if there is a high number of registered childminders, but also 51,000 unregistered.

In fact, the Childcare and Early Years Providers Survey 2009 clearly explains on page 11 that the 63,600 is that of registered childminders, and of those, 51,000 are 'working childminders only, as a substantial proportion of those registered with Ofsted are currently inactive'.

Particularly as you also have a news article on the previous page in the same issue about unregistered childminding, the nature of the paragraph was not only misleading, or at best confusing, but unhelpful too.

Carly Reigler, area childminding co-ordinator, East Sussex County Council.

- 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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