UK Politics

Clegg pre-school pledge: Your comments

Image caption Nick Clegg's party is under pressure over its pledge on tuition fees

Nick Clegg has pledged £7bn over four years to improving the education of England's poorest children.

It will pay for 15 hours of free pre-school education a week for the poorest two-year-olds and help for the least well-off at school and university levels.

The deputy PM said next week's spending review would see "difficult cuts" but would also invest in "fairness". Labour suggested Mr Clegg was trying to appease his own MPs after a difficult week on tuition fees.

Here BBC readers react to the move.

Your comments

Helping all children get an education is paramount. The problem with just catering for the poor is that it's "Middle England" who will pay for it (in taxes) and we can't keep paying. Sure, kids need a great supportive start, but it must be made conditional and somehow means tested. Both parents should take some responsibility for their child and have an income which isn't made up of social benefits to be able to qualify. Otherwise it's just giving the unemployed another benefit and taking away the parents' responsibility to cater for their offspring. Education is surely for all, but I would urge the government not to forget Middle Britain. KD Bucher, Newport

Having recently been made redundant, and with a wife and two-year-old, this initiative would be very beneficial. I'm trying to start my own business, and money is very tight. With a place at a very inexpensive small local pre-school costing £250 per term for two half-days per week, this is simply a luxury that we can't generally afford. And yet if my wife were to go to work her net salary wouldn't cover this cost. This helps neither my wife, son or I, nor the country as a whole. We claim no tax credits, nor any benefit of any kind other than £20 a week family allowance, but this would enable us to work towards our own financially stable future rather than have it handed to us, which is not helpful in the long-term. Jonathan Luker, Witney

Pre-school is meant to be just that - a preparation for young children before they go to school. Inserting two-year-olds into the mix will make it much harder for pre-school teachers to manage a broad and age appropriate programme of activities and learning. Think of all the toys marked not suitable for under-threes. And staff will end up spending a significant amount of time changing nappies. Louise, Highland

Image caption Private nursery places are beyond the budgets of many families

I have a two-year-old son with Down Syndrome who was until recently accessing a funded nursery/pre-school place but this funding has been pulled because of spending cuts. We are not eligible for the new funding as we are not classed as being "disadvantaged", although we cannot afford to keep the place on ourselves. My husband and I put an enormous amount of time into our son to help his learning but the best source of stimulation for him is to be surrounded by his peers, to learn from them and to copy them. How is this fair to disabled children, don't they deserve "the chance to get ahead to live out their dreams, to pursue their aspirations?" I thought all the money that was ploughed into Children's Centres was for this very purpose - to educate both the parents and children, because it doesn't matter how much time and money you put into the children they need the continuation of support from their parents. Jill Newton, Grimsby

No problem with the idea but is this the best way to support young needy mothers by taking their children from them for three hours a day? Would the money be better spent on training and support for the mothers? Appears also to me to be a cheap sop to support Young Nick and his sell-out party. Shame he, along with the other power hungry members of what used to be the Liberal Party, can't or won't stand up for their beliefs. Oh yes I forget beliefs are only necessary when you are hungry for votes. Suzanne, Stamford

Utter rubbish. The countries with better educated pupils tend to start them later, not earlier. The issue is their home life and whether the parents are involved or not. If the parents try to help their children, and spend time with them, the children will be better. The parents who simply leave their offspring on the games console or television, will simply breed children who are less educated. Nothing to do with pre-school or anything else. This is not an issue that money can fix. It's a culture issue. Mike, England

This is a fantastic opportunity for all two-year-olds. I just hope that the parents will be encouraged to work for the 15 hours a week that their children are in free childcare, possibly even working at the pre-schools or nurseries. However, I wonder if that will then mean that they do not count for the free childcare as they no longer fall into the "poverty bracket". Tanya Trafford, Hampshire

I think it is an excellent plan. Finally, we have a government that is getting to grips with Labour's disastrous legacy, a government that actually wants to help people out of poverty and improve their lives, rather than Labour's approach of creating a generation who cannot improve their lives because they are locked into a cycle of benefit dependency. Finally, after 13 years of horrendous waste, 13 years of shocking incompetence and inefficiency that has brought this country to its knees, we have a government that is actually taking control and admirably working together in the national interest. Matthew, London

As per normal at the moment it's the working class that would seem to miss out again. Surely it should be that all two-year-olds should be entitled to the 15 hours pre-schooling like it is now for the over-threes. The previous government had made it so easy for people to live off benefits and not work. Why should people who want to work and do work lose out again? Suzy Clark, Exeter, Devon

Two-year-olds do not need an education. They need stimulus and learning through play. They need a parent to do this. When my daughters were young my partner and I both worked. I changed my job to be with my kids and I worked shifts so we were always with them. You cannot say these young kids will benefit from being put in a nursery - a few might - but the majority won't, as with two staff to approximately 15 to 20 kids - they cannot get that interaction. Another waste of public money on the so-called 20% of poorest families who have 48" plasma screens and the full satellite TV package. Working couples can't afford the £70 a month to have this and haven't got the time to watch it anyway. Linda Young, Wolverton Bucks

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