Readers' Letters: Life prospects hit by SNP's education failure

So, the education secretary, Shirley-Anne Somerville, has announced that the SNP government is abandoning its target to eliminate the poverty-related education gap.

This mission was unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon's programme for government in 2016 when she said “eliminating this education gap is a yardstick by which the people of Scotland can measure our success”. When we read that literacy and numeracy levels have declined across all age groups (P1, P4 and P7) since 2016, we can indeed measure the SNP government's performance… a total and abject failure which threatens the life prospects of our schoolchildren. Sad thing is, I don't think many will be surprised by this.

Jim Houston, Edinburgh

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Levelling down

Education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville with pupils from Lochgelly High School last year (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The SNP’s programme for government in 2016 stated: “It is the defining mission of this government to close the poverty-related attainment gap” in education. Now, Shirley-Anne Somerville admits that the projected ten-year time frame for this is being abandoned. This is disastrous for children in disadvantaged areas, for their families and for Scotland. The surest way for a child in a poor family to achieve success is to raise him/her out of poverty by providing a top-class education. It is shaming that Scotland, whose record in education used to be enviable, cannot achieve this and that its government has now given up trying.

We have seen recently the downright waste of public money in Scotland, with the ferries, the Gupta involvement, BiFab, foreign “hubs” and much more. If these monies had been invested in re-engineering Scottish education to become once more a system to emulate, we might have started on the way to providing a first class education for all of our children. As it is, the Scottish Government’s own figures show that, since that 2016 programme was announced, overall attainment in numeracy and literacy in Scotland’s schools has declined – levelling down rather than levelling up. I suppose that is one way of narrowing the attainment gap.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Rail tragedy

When I heard the news that ScotRail would become the responsibility of the Scottish Government and I realised that it was April 1st, I should have known what would happen. This time Nicola cannot blame anyone else. This time her name is boldly engraved on a plaque dated April 1st. Another “transport tragedy” unfolding.

I cannot imagine people living in our island communities planning a trip to Glasgow or Edinburgh, first with a ferry journey and then a train journey or two. It certainly is not a fun prospect and I’m glad I don’t live on an island.

Based on the recent performance of this Scottish Government headed by Nicola Sturgeon, as well as the controversy of the big sell-off of our seabed I’m truly glad the SNP didn’t go ahead with the establishment of a Scottish Energy Company as things are bad enough. I cannot imagine how much worse it would be if Nicola and government tinkered with it!

A well-known saying comes to mind, “the blind leading the blind”.

Jo Bloomfield, Edinburgh

Out of steam

Less than two months since the SNP/Greens nationalised ScotRail and the deal is already running out of steam. The Scottish Government is making it difficult to own and use a petrol or diesel car, yet seems incapable of providing a usable public transport system instead.

Already the centres of all Scotland's cities are gearing up to be low emission zones, yet the infrastructure for charging electric cars is also not ready. This is yet another knee-jerk reaction by the SNP and Greens to further their climate change credentials without actually considering the public nor the businesses that are just emerging from the travails of the pandemic. Who is going to invest in new businesses in Scotland when its very government doesn't appear to know what it is doing?

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

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Highland woes

Stephen G Bonner's letter (18 May) resonates with us in the Highlands too. The current energy crisis is appalling for everyone, but particularly galling for us in the Highlands considering almost every river and loch is harnessed by some hydro scheme or other and practically every hill is scarred by a “flock” of turbines. One of Scotland's greatest assets is its scenery and sadly that is being irrevocably tarnished. So long as the Greens support the lamentable SNP government, the situation will only get worse. Renewables, including, of course, tidal power are best offshore.

On the bright side, living in the Borders, Stephen will always have access to cheap hooch if he ventures into England!

Torquil MacLeod, Drumnadrochit, Inverness

Labour betrayal

It beggars belief that Labour councillors in Edinburgh are refusing to work with the SNP to form a left-leaning administration that could help residents cope with the worst cost-of-living crisis in 40 years, despite having worked well together in the previous administration and having stood on broadly similar manifestos. And despite this successful collaboration having not damaged them in the least politically! Why are they refusing power to help voters?

Answer. The dictum of a public-school educated leader and son of a millionaire in Glasgow. What has Labour become? Where is the commitment to help the poor, to help struggling families? Where is the independence of mind? The pragmatism?

This will seriously backfire on Labour. Voters will not forget that in their moment of crisis, Labour refused to step up to the plate.

Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face, Labour are holding the poor to ransom. Where is their conscience?

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh

No substance

Folks in the USA must be slightly puzzled by the “state visit” of one Nicola Sturgeon to the North American continent. Her five-day trip has already been described as merely “political opportunism” by one US analyst. Ms Sturgeon should perhaps remember that she is First Minister of only a devolved part of the UK, with a population of around 5.4 million – roughly the same as the State of South Carolina. It could therefore be construed that her ego is larger than her political clout.

She has already indicated during her “tour” that an independent Scotland would join Nato – but such a decision would certainly not receive the blessing of the SNP'S “bed partners”, the Green Party. And furthermore, it could well be that Nato would find her political party's insistence on the removal of the Faslane/Loch Long submarine base rather perturbing.

But in any case, without the agreement of the UK Government at Westminster, a second referendum on the question of Scottish independence would have no legal standing. And so Scotland will continue to be an integral part of the UK. In this situation, perhaps Ms Sturgeon should concentrate her efforts on trying to improve public services throughout Scotland. These have most certainly been grossly neglected under the current administrative regime.

It really does seem that her oratory lacks substance, and furthermore, any form of political clout.

Robert IG Scott, Ceres, Fife

Oil surprise

It comes as a massive surprise that Mary Thomas (Letters, 17 May) claims the utopia of an independent Scotland will be based on the sale of hundreds of billions of barrels of North Sea oil. It also raises the question as to why the First Minister has travelled thousands of miles to the USA to proclaim that “Scotland will be a climate leader in the eyes of the world” if the £150 billion cost of a Green Revolution is to be underwritten by the sale of oil.

Note also that if it is Holyrood policy to replace gas as an energy source that requires a 25,000MW increase in renewable electricity, then the SNP Energy Strategy document, which has been put back from spring to autumn 2022, needs to explain what will keep the lights on when the wind fails to blow!

Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway

Look homeward

I was amused to read of SNP MSP Michael Matheson’s demands for a Four Nations approach to the UK cost of living crisis. He won’t even admit that a four-party approach in Scotland could only improve the strategic thinking of our government here, but the offer of inputs from the powerhouses that are Shona Robison and Kate Forbes was surely one that the UK government could politely turn down.

If only the SNP could do as Mark Drakeford does in Wales and focus on domestic problems – of which there are too many to list here.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Census failure

It appears the SNP are going to brazen it out over the Census fiasco and go ahead in collating figures, even with an unprecedented high percentage of uncompleted forms.

Many experts believe the whole process costing many millions is now pointless. To make sense of the information gathered it needs returns in the high ninety percentages – as was had in the other UK nations, who carried out their own on schedule and in tandem. They also benefited from UK-wide publicity, which clearly got the numbers up. In their efforts to be uniquely Scottish, the SNP has robbed us of this vital information.

For sheer incompetence, this matter will match the ferry fiasco. It is another indication of the present administration’s unerring ability to make even the most simple procedure difficult.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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