Busy in Kingsclere with the Busy Bees. . . while Government policy closes 1,500 pre-schools.
16 Apr 1999
Sir George visited the Busy Bees Playgroup at Kingsclere on April 16th to take part in a picture painting competition. This has been organised by the Pre School Alliance, who have asked their member playgroups to invite along their local MP. The MP's painting will be entered into a competition to be judged at the House of Commons on May 12th. The winning painting will be awarded with a cash prize for the playgroup.

"I greatly enjoyed my visit, but I fear my painting may not win. I was given great assistance by Micky and Abby, but their style was slightly different!"
(-see Opposition statement below)

The visit was to draw attention to the successes of playgroups, and the challenges they face due to the Minimum Wage and Working Time Directive. Some playgroups have increased fees by 33% to cope with the Minimum Wage.

"This is a very successful playgroup, with tremendous commitment from staff, parents and the community. I want to help them raise the funds they need for their new outside hardplay area" said Sir George.
Theresa May MP, Shadow Schools Minister, has responded to the Government's belated announcement of a review of the future of pre-schools. Mrs. May said:

"At last, the Government has woken up to the importance of pre-schools and the damage that Government policies are doing. But this review is small comfort to the 1,500 pre-schools that have already closed as part of Government policy. Whilst a review is welcome, I would prefer to see it looking specifically at the impact of policies like the minimum wage and the Working Time Directive on preschools. Many of them fear closure or that their charges will have to rise beyond a level that is affordable for parents. The Government cannot claim that it supports early education whilst it presides over the closure of so many preschools."
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