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While I understand from Louise Masterson's own admission that she does not come from a childcare background, I was still taken aback at her comments that her fellow students are on placement at a children's centre ('Study days', 9/16 August).

For most families, the approaching new school year is all about fresh starts and the hope for a bright and successful future. But what about those children who have already been written off by the time they reach secondary school?

Regarding the matter of 'free' nursery education for three- and four-year-olds, in our area children aged three qualify for a 'free' place in an LEA nursery immediately after their third birthday. However, if the child is attending a private day nursery they do not receive the entitlement until the term following the third birthday.

The report by Which? on the use of cartoon characters in food marketing and packaging releases a cry for help from parents trying to feed their children a healthy diet (see News, page 6).

Two articles in the 19 July issue of Nursery World caught my eye. The problem of global warming affects us all, but I believe the direction advocated by John Guillebaud in Youthquake ('"Keep families small" warning') is misdirected.

Nurseries are asked to give evidence of the discrepancies in the nursery education grant scheme by Alan Bentley.

Recently I offered other daycare settings a booklet we had written on the subject of treasure baskets and heuristic play (Letters, 12 July). Our nursery has been inundated with requests for copies, with many letters and e-mails commenting on how rare it is to share material between nurseries.

In response to 'Pre-schools' plight' (Letters, 26 July), the Alliance disagrees with the opinion expressed in the letter that pre-schools do not need committees and run better without them. We firmly believe that parental involvement is a cornerstone of pre-schools.

After decades in the backwaters, children's play is moving closer to the mainstream of public policy debate. The centre-left thinktank Compass has launched a 'Charter for Childhood' that rightly joins the dots between the ever-growing commercialisation of children's lives and their loss of play opportunities.

What do you get if you cross a frog with a bee? Well, the UK early years sector is about to find out, and the resulting creature will be the largest in the nursery garden.

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