Scotland on Sunday letters: Pupils will suffer

A sharp decline in literacy standards has been observed in Scottish schools, while many are said to be demoralised. Picture: Getty
A sharp decline in literacy standards has been observed in Scottish schools, while many are said to be demoralised. Picture: Getty
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DISADVANTAGED pupils will suffer most from disastrous experiment in education

PENNY Lewis (Another Voice, 17 May) is absolutely right in her assessment of the so-called “Curriculum for Excellence” (CfE). One aspect not mentioned, however, is the unprecedented levels of workload and unnecessary bureaucracy associated with CfE which educators now have to deal with. A vast amount of teachers’ time is spent compiling Personal Learning Plans and Learning Journals, which are bulky and decorative but of highly questionable value to pupils. The consequence of this concentration on window-dressing is, of course, less time available for planning good quality lessons.

Related to CfE is Professional Update, the latest revolutionary initiative. Launched with great fanfare by the General Teaching Council, it appears to be nothing more than a laborious online and paper exercise in rubber-stamping what is essentially the old system of Continuous Professional Development. In some schools, even experienced staff are being required to write time-consuming self-evaluations on every lesson taught, but in many cases senior staff simply don’t have the time to provide feedback and they’re filed away somewhere, never to be seen again. Another box ticked.

The Minister of Education and her predecessor are in raptures of self-congratulation over their achievements on the “Journey to Excellence”, (see ministerial interview in the spring edition of Teaching Scotland) but what has actually happened is a sharp decline in literacy standards recently discovered by the Scottish ­Survey of Literacy, an underfunded education system (increasing class sizes, supply staff virtually non-existent) widespread confusion over the new National 4 and 5 exams and a thoroughly demoralised teaching profession.

Penny Lewis stated: “They [the policymakers] see liberal academic education as an irrelevance or a problem, a privilege associated with the middle classes that excludes large numbers of children.” These same people tell us that we now have a “skills-based rather than a knowledge-based curriculum” and that “we don’t teach to the test any more”. In that case, God help us all in our increasingly globalised economy; but in particular, God help the most disadvantaged, who will doubtless suffer the most from the long-term legacy of this ­experiment.

F Scott, Edinburgh

Alexander not so great a contender

YOU report that Douglas Alexander would be a likely contender for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party (News, 17 May). I am unclear why.

An independent investigation into the Holyrood Election and Council Elections of 2007 concluded that a number of partisan decisions made by Mr Alexander led to wholesale voter confusion. Ron Gould, the Canadian election official brought in to examine why 146,099 votes had to be rejected, concluded that this was a result of Mr Alexander’s self-­interested move to change electoral rules in Labour’s favour.

Despite the above, Douglas Alexander was in charge of Ed Miliband’s general election campaign. Labour had the worst result in Britain since 1987 and in Scotland since 1900. The good people of Paisley have cast their verdict on him. I would suggest they were speaking for many of us.

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing

Smokescreen has blinded voters

I NOTE that in the 24 May ­edition of Scotland on Sunday six pages are devoted to stories on party politics and constitutional change. This is symptomatic of British politics in the past few years where politicians seem to be obsessed with their own position, putting down their rivals or grand ­ideas rather than getting on with their job which is to serve the best interests of all of us.

The SNP have been both the best exponents and greatest beneficiaries of this approach to politics, the recent referendum forming a smokescreen which has blinded voters to their performance in government. Your story on attempts to attract flights from China to Prestwick (News, 24 May) is a good example of this, the former first minister indulging a fantasy that a global economic power would somehow be interested in connecting to a semi-abandoned airport on the edge of Europe instead of using his time and public money to create new jobs in Ayrshire.

If Mr Salmond was from any other party the SNP would be calling for him to resign.

Dr S J Clark, Edinburgh

Why consult on turbine subsidies?

THE Queen’s Speech indicated that the UK government ­intended to end subsidies for onshore wind but would consult the Scottish Government before applying it to Scottish turbines. What’s to consult?

The cost of wind farm subsidies is spread across the whole of the UK through levies on energy bills. Scotland is far more saturated with turbines than England. If Scotland is allowed to continue with these subsidies then those living in England will unwillingly subsidise SNP Scotland’s fetish for wind turbines. The SNP keep preaching that Scotland should be ­independent so if they want this then Scotland’s electricity consumers can pay for the subsidies for Scottish turbines – leaving the rest of the UK with far cheaper energy bills.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Give students cold shoulder

EDINBURGH University students and associated intelligentsia have an intense dislike of fossil fuels and would withdraw all funding to such fuel suppliers. Those in authority at the university should turn off the fossil fuel heating systems this coming winter and we can then see how they cope.

John Dixon, Edinburgh