Readers' letters - February 15

The childcare system needs improving, says a correspondent
The childcare system needs improving, says a correspondent

Act now and we can shake up UK’s childcare system

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We all want a childcare system that is more affordable and easy to use, so parents face less stress and can access the nursery hours they need, and one that delivers the best possible start for children.
The childcare system in England isn’t working. Great childcare sets up young children for life – helping them to learn, express themselves and get along with other children.
It’s where they learn the communication skills, and gain the confidence and curiosity that will mean they thrive once they start school.
Nursery workers and childminders are doing an incredible job. But right now, our broken childcare system isn’t giving families the support they need – at the most important time in their children’s lives.
Even though changes have been made, many parents are still finding it tough to make choices about going back to work – with mums who are struggling to make ends meet being hit the hardest.
Parents tell us that childcare bills are so high that it’s not worth going back to work, and that finding a way to get the support on offer from the government is tricky.
We need a childcare system that fits around families’ lives and gives parents the choice to go back to work if they want to. It’s better for parents, and better for their children.
Please consider signing a Save the Children petition calling on Theresa May to make childcare work for everyone by visiting
By signing the petition, you will help Save the Children raise childcare up the UK government’s agenda and show them how many people want a childcare system that gives children the best start and parents choices.
Garry Richardson
via email

Cycle your way to better future

We’re looking for keen local cyclists to pedal their way to glory in one of the biggest cycling events in the world – the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 – and help the UK’s largest meningitis charity beat the deadly disease.
Meningitis Now has guaranteed places available for the event for those who may have missed out on the ballot. It takes place on Sunday, July 29, starting from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford before finishing at The Mall, by way of the Surrey countryside.
We’d love you to join our team and can offer you your own personalised technical cycling jersey; a huge welcome at our post-race reception with drinks, snacks, a shower and sports massage; training and fundraising support and materials; and a dedicated events fundraiser to help you along the way.
By cycling for us, you’ll be helping to fight meningitis with every metre covered and move us closer to our vision of a future where no one in the UK dies from meningitis and everyone affected gets the support they need.
Last year our cyclists collectively raised a fantastic £39,290.33. We are so proud of you all for taking on this tough yet rewarding challenge. This year we’d like to do even better.
Sadly, meningitis and septicaemia continues to affect thousands of people in the UK and kills more under-fives than any other infectious disease. Help us fight back on all fronts by funding research to eradicate the disease, raising awareness and supporting survivors. To find out more about our special £25 sign up offer until the end of February and sign up, email or call me on 01453 768000.
Kirsty Owen-Hayward
Events Fundraiser, Meningitis Now

Vital specialist school services

Children’s mental health has never been so high profile and rightly so.
At school leaders’ union NAHT, we’ve long been aware that schools are on the front line with children’s mental health because school is often where issues first become apparent.
That’s why we were delighted to support last week’s Children’s Mental Health Week. We want to say thank you to everyone who took part. There is still so much more to do. The government’s recently published green paper on children’s mental health recognised the “vital role” that schools can play in identifying and supporting young people experiencing problems.
However, school leaders are not experts in mental health issues so it can be difficult to know what kind of support is needed.
The green paper did not include any additional funding for the majority of schools. More specialist services are vital, as is more training for teachers and support staff. One more change would make a world of difference. PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) should be taught in regular timetabled lessons in school to enable all children to learn about mental health.
Paul Whiteman
General secretary of school leaders’ union, NAHT