Letters: Schools are in crisis so why the meaningless platitudes from …

UK schools minister Nick Gibb, from whom I would have expected much better, made a valiant but useless defence of his party’s educational performance during an interview on Channel 4, the intro to which was the bright idea of Rishi Sunak to compel everyone up to the age of 18 to study maths. Out of his mouth came the statement that teaching is a worthwhile profession, an opinion[1] no could dispute.

However, he refused to dig below the surface of the discontent endemic among the teaching profession. He then had the audacity to point out that a head teacher could earn £94,000 a year presumably to justify his original statement, omitting to mention what he is paid as a junior minister of education[2] while pointing out that MPs received just £87,000 a year.

Those two remarks prompt several questions. Why is there an exodus from the teaching profession across the border? There is already a shortage of maths’ teachers to meet the requirements of the current situation. Not many in teaching can reach the hallowed heights of headship.

Teachers are continuing their strike action thanks to having had their pay depressed for the last 13 years, thereby reducing their standard of living. Indiscipline in schools is a problem on the rise while many school buildings are crumbling, badly in need of repair.

Heads are forced to contemplate cutbacks in materials and staff to balance their books owing to the underfunding they have had thrust upon them. Over and above, teachers feel that they are walking on eggshells every time they open their mouths in case they cause offence by uttering such a harmless address as “boys and girls”.

Not one of those pressures did this education minister address during that interview, leaving those watching to give his performance a hearty horse laugh.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs

A scary trip to Ardrosssan

I can add my own experience to John Taylor’s tales of hairy sails on the Clyde steamers (April 17 ). On August 17, 1970, it was a bright summer’s morning with a calm sea as we set sail on the Caledonia ferry from Brodick to Ardrossan.

About halfway across, the Caledonia suddenly and severely rolled, pitching those of us sitting in the cafe on to the now sloping floor, gravity sending us sliding down towards the side windows and pining us there All very Titanic like. Thankfully, she righted herself slowly which allowed us to clamber up and scramble out of the cafe and up on to the deck.

When she finally reached her berth at Ardrossan harbour, it transpired that two sheep floats on a lorry on the vehicle deck had toppled over resulting in the loss of about 80 sheep and damaging my car which was parked alongside to the extent that it was a write-off. The official explanation at the time, which having regard to the calm conditions I and others on board found difficult to accept, was that the roll was caused by a swell. Subsequently other, unofficial, theories surfaced ranging from submarine avoidance to inadvertent automatic pilot action.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop

A dedicated man who loved his patients

I was saddened to read the obituary for Professor David George in The Herald (15th April). Thirteen years ago he had to break the news[3] to me that everyone dreads “You have cancer but…” He then explained the diagnosis, the surgery he was going to perform the following week (the following week!) and the prognosis which was optimistic (well, I’m still here.) He took his eyes off his computer screen, put down his pen and looked me straight in the face to do this … all the while remaining caring and compassionate.

Professor George was literally on the point of retiring, and I was one of his “last operations” that following Wednesday. Some weeks later I bumped in to him in the street and asked how he was enjoying his retirement. ” Ah well, em … I’m doing operations three days a week at Cork infirmary.” A real dedicated surgeon who loved his work and his patients.

When I first broke the news of my cancer to my family, my younger daughter said “Who is this doctor who is going to operate on you? I am going to check him out,” as she brought out her phone to Google him. “Ah yeah … that’s OK … you’ll be fine mum, he will do a good job.” And he did.

Sheila Duffy, Glasgow

Return to petrol?

A friend of mine recently had delivered a new hybrid family car on contract hire from a supplier in England. While showing him a few ins and outs of the new car, the chap explained that recently he had been delivering mostly petrol and diesel cars to customers who had contracted electric cars and were now sending them back because of the hassle and expense of owning them. So there. J Morrison, Inchinnan, Renfrew

Why persist with pointless duplication?

Almost every week, we hear of BBC cutbacks, yet they persist with the nonsense of network news correspondents. Yet again this week there was a perfect example of this madness.

On Monday’s 6 o’clock news there was a report about the reopening of the Union Chain Bridge by Scotland correspondent Alexandra McKenzie; 20 minutes later there was essentially the same report by Cameron Buttle on Reporting Scotland. A local story of importance to the people in the area, but worth two reporters, of course not.

I could almost see the point of network news correspondents if they generated original material for the network but all they do is duplicate what local reporters do, wasting money and, if I were a BBC Scotland reporter, causing offence at the implication that I wasn’t good enough.

Stuart Neville, Clydebank

Another reason to be cheerful

In response to Keith Swinley’s request for Herald readers to share their own reasons to be cheerful (April 17 ), one of my progeny had their first letter to The Herald published last week.

If that didn’t make me chirpy, what would?

R Russell Smith, Largs


  1. ^ opinion (www.heraldscotland.com)
  2. ^ education (www.heraldscotland.com)
  3. ^ news (www.heraldscotland.com)

You may also like...