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“Academies”, beginning, I think, with Perth were introduced to provide the growing need for technical training not then available at our universities. They developed into the grammar-school equivalent (Letters, 5 February) only in larger towns. For rural places the “High School” was more comprehensive-like in that it took in all children from the catchment area. However, it did usually have streaming by ability.

I sympathise with the social idea of comprehensives, but we must recognise that levelling only takes place in one direction, that of “dumbing down”. What used to be education is now ­biased over-much to training – good for producing technicians but sadly depriving potential “lateral thinkers” of the start they need, and these are the very people who really make a difference to our lot.

I am also apprehensive that the current trend towards Scottish universities for Scottish students is actually bad for the country. A flow of the best in and out is far preferable.

Of course, let our young people have “free” education but let it be by a voucher system that allows them to attend the university most suited to their needs. May I add that universities having to exist on charging fees might just have to pay a little more attention to their own performance.

(Dr) A McCormick

Kirkland Road

Terregles, Dumfries

I WAS concerned to read that Flora Scarabello’s local authority (Letters, 4 February) has decreed that only six subjects are to be studied by all fourth-year pupils in her council area. The number of subjects studied at this stage continues to fuel debate for Scotland’s parents.

At a public meeting in Edinburgh in March 2013, I asked education secretary, Mike Russell, a question on this very issue. He stated that while under Curriculum for Excellence six or seven subjects might be the most common approach, as many as eight or as few as five would be possible. He explained that this decision was for schools to make locally, in consultation with their pupil and parent bodies.

News of a “one-size fits all” approach elsewhere in Scotland is an alarming development.

At our High School, pupils are currently enabled to study up to eight subjects in S4. As parents, we aim to further develop a local solution in consultation across the school community, and will now be increasingly wary of any pressure from various external sources to make a change that is centrally, rather than locally, ­devised.

Luke McCullough

Chair, Royal High School 
Parent Council

East Barnton Avenue

Edinburgh

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