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LETTER OF THE WEEK - OFSTED IMPEDIMENT

I am the mother of two children and am working as a nanny. In May, I started the lengthy process of becoming a registered childminder.

Having completed my Diploma in Nursery Nursing in 2000 and worked as a nanny since, I had no concerns over the childcare element, so, at my pre-registration visit by Ofsted, I asked about ratios. Together, we looked at the ages of children that I care for and how that would work with my ratios. As my children are not always in my care, I said I would always be working with the right ratio and the inspector agreed.

After completing my Diploma in Home Childcare, 12-hour paediatric first aid course, health declaration and enhanced CRB checks, along with safety alterations to our house, I was looking forward to becoming a registered childminder. I was shocked when my certificate arrived and stated I could only care for one child aged less than five years. Ofsted said the reason is my own children, despite my explaining they would be in daycare or with their grandmother while I was working.

I feel I am being prevented from working because I have children. How can my children be counted, even when they are being cared for in a different setting? Does this mean that every nursery nurse with children should have empty places in their class?

In a time when people are rightly being encouraged to work and support themselves, I feel I am being prevented by Ofsted, despite having done all that is asked. My husband was recently made redundant, so the money I earn is essential. The future for my family looks set to get more difficult, despite my every effort.

- Nicky Tutt, Harpenden, Hertfordshire

Our letter of the week wins £30 worth of books

WHAT'S UP, SARAH?

Catherine Gaunt (News, 28 October) points out that we're in a strange and murky world of smoke and mirrors. The consensus was that SureStart was 'safe', but now it appears it's not ... or is it?

One of the 'logical' consequences of smaller government is that decisions are downloaded to local authorities. Removal of the ring-fence just assures no blame for the Coalition, despite its reassurances.

When we add two years funding, pupil premium, a universal Sure Start targeted, future-proofing in 'cash terms', social enterprises, Tickell's EYFS review and the need for centres to 'think more innovatively about how they use resources' (Minister's view, 28 October), we have a very unclear picture. Is it about muddying the water?

It'll go the way it goes and we know about what seems to be the change mentality, but this increases uncertainty in the workforce. These people may be affected, but don't get a say, do they?

Sarah Teather, what exactly is the situation? Do you know, or are we working it out as we go along? Will LAs know? You cite the principles, but what do they mean?

- Andrew Sanders, early years lecturer, University of Derby

COMPUTER DOWNSIDE

I read 'Computers benefit children' (7 October) with interest, but I am not convinced young children need computers in the nursery to 'perform better on measures of cognitive competence'.

On a recent study trip to Italy I visited a nursery, a primary and a secondary school with not a computer in sight! The nursery had half of the resources we expect to find in English nurseries; however, I did not see children worse off. We were welcomed by children eager to show us their classrooms, garden and pets, able to speak fluently and confidently.

The primary school children had been working on a recycling project and teachers had collected drawings, poems and thoughts beautifully handwritten by children aged seven, explaining why the environment matters to them.

I am sure these Italian children have access to computers in their homes. Do they need them in their school? Are they missing out? From what I have witnessed, no! What stands out is the quality of human interaction and the natural environment building and extending cognitive competence.

- Annalia Rechic, assistant manager, College of Haringey, Enfield and NE London Nursery

Send your letters to ... letter.nw@haymarket.com, 020 8267 8401

The Editor, Nursery World, 174 Hammersmith Road, London W6 7JP.

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