WE at Upstart Scotland have just had a weekend of highs and lows.

Saturday morning saw a motion go to the EIS AGM asking the participants to support a campaign for a kindergarten stage from 3-7 for Scotland. The debate was supportive of play being the developmentally appropriate pedagogy for our youngest children as stated in Building the Curriculum 2 of Cfe. Upstart ws very glad that the largest teaching union would be advocating for the early level to be a discrete area of our education system, bringing us into line with successful countries across the world who begin formal education later than we do. This change will not mean that our children are not challenged and stretched as highly qualified staff who understand the needs of this age group are essential for the success of this transition.

The low has been the reporting of the debate on the place of the nursery teacher as part of the nursery team ("Pupils starting primary school ‘do not know how to hold a pencil’", The Herald, June 8). A serious lack of understanding surrounding the aims and values of an early learning centre can lead to the misunderstanding that nursery is to get our children ready for school. So very wrong ... nursery is to support and enthuse a child at their developmental stage as they move forward with their learning. The Give Them Time Campaign understands this. Society needs to change the debate to "child ready" rather than "school ready" and a kindergarten stage will support this. Children begin both nursery and primary with diverse skills and knowledge.

In 2015, Professor Iram Siraj led an Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) Workforce and the Out of School Care (OSC), which recommended that the Scottish Government convened a strategic group to "oversee a maximum 15-year vision and development plan for workforce reform". To my knowledge, no such group exists although we are in the process of extending the rights of our three and four-year-olds to free education and childcare for up to 1,140 hours by 2020. This review has much to offer Scotland as they take these new hours forward. It is based on evidence and researched by a world-renowned academic commissioned by the Government but sadly not acted upon.

An early years team includes staff from many different academic routes and these have changed vastly over the years. It is time to value the different skills and knowledge while ensuring that our youngest children are supported by staff who are paid and valued appropriately – not the case for many at the moment – and have a career structure and appropriate training. This is not the time to be divisive, as many studies show that a high quality pre-school experience has a positive effect throughout the child's life but to achieve this a workforce suited to the 21st century who share the same aims and ambitions is paramount.

Kate Johnston, Vice Chair Upstart Scotland, Edinburgh EH10.

SO the EIS, at its AGM, is having a pop at "nursery nurses" again. According to Jillian Gillespie, a primary school teacher, pupils starting primary "do not know how to hold a pencil" and there is "no educational input’" in nurseries. She later said that early years officers do a very good job. Well thanks very much, make your mind up.

I am a nursery nurse with more than 40 years' local authority service in early years, 30 of those as head and I am fed up to the back teeth and indeed enraged when these comments are made, reported on and not challenged. Is this all she thinks our role is, teaching children to hold a pencil and to sit still? Many children are not developmentally ready to achieve these skills at four and a half but with the curriculum in P1 finally becoming a more play-based learning experience, there are lots more opportunities for children to practise.

I have worked in partnership with teachers at various points in my career and work closely with my colleagues in local primaries. They may have their personal views about the reduction of teachers in early years but I know they have respect for the early years practitioners in my establishment who provide a broad and balanced curriculum.

The EIS needs to stop disrespecting the hard work and commitment to learning that we have as "non-teaching staff", a clumsy term that is used for those who do not have a teaching qualification but without whom the education system would be in trouble.

Deirdre Kilmurry, Giffnock.