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READERS’ LETTERS: Abolishing private schools is not the answer

High School of Dundee .
High School of Dundee .

Madam, – Have private education in the UK banned forthwith, proposed a recent correspondent.

Most of the main movers in the Brexit debacle were privately educated, thus justifying the proposal.

On that your correspondent is correct: too many in authority come from a privileged section of society.

They go from prep school to public school to Oxford or Cambridge and straight into politics.

Having said that, only 30% of MPs or cabinet ministers were privately educated. It still applies, however, that these privileged few are almost guaranteed posts in government or the civil service.

The trouble is their horizons are limited, with no concept of how anybody outside their world thinks or lives.

No matter their party or politics, they all belong to the same club and mostly vote accordingly.

Now that strict party lines and discipline have collapsed, the old boys’ network is even more clearly revealed.

But on these grounds to abolish all private education?

I don’t think so.

The intentions of the education reformers post-1945 were praiseworthy.

They wanted to create a level playing field for all children.

Unfortunately, their ideals did not convert into practice and, instead of the disadvantaged receiving a better education, the standards of achievement for all state-educated children plummeted.

Our social engineers keep fiddling with the curriculum and methods, but make things worse.

Private schools which have been immune from this catastrophic social engineering have kept standards up, hence (at least in part) the increasing success of their former pupils.

Dundee High School used to have to compete with the excellent senior secondary schools in the city – Harris, Morgan, Grove and Lawside.

That competition is now far reduced since all four have been converted into comprehensives.

I was educated under the old Scottish state system and know I could perform at least as well as the products of private and public schools.

That has all gone now and our state schools continue to decline.

I suggest the only remedy is to reintroduce the old standards at primary school level, enforce them then reorganise comprehensives so all pupils are taught at their own level throughout and disruptive pupils are not allowed to ruin the opportunities provided for the more studious and conscientious.

At the other end of the scale, we must abolish the cosy old-boy network and let the products of our senior secondaries/grammar schools compete on equal terms with the privately educated elite.

But abolish private schools? No way.

State schools should use them as an example to emulate.

George K McMillan.

5, Mount Tabor




Education tops grand-standing

Madam, – I was shocked to discover that my old school, Waid Academy in Anstruther, is being forced to reduce its teaching schedules due to Fife Council budget cuts resulting from cost-saving funding policies at Holyrood.

The Waid is having to contemplate moving to a four-day week. Why is it that the SNP minority government, supported by the Greens, cheerfully hands out millions in foreign aid that is not a devolved government requirement, and provides free of charge tuition to foreign students at Scottish universities, and numerous other social freebies, when our own kids have to suffer from spending cuts.

These are blamed, as is the usual SNP mantra, on Tory austerity.

It is nothing of the kind.

The problem here is incompetent fiscal policies and crass fiscal management by the SNP that has full control of Scotland’s budget management.

It is high time we were having another General Election to get improved fiscal controls in Holyrood that are focused on priorities.

There is no greater priority than providing adequate education and healthcare to the people of Scotland.

But for the SNP, the priority has long been spending on grandstanding and image-building in pursuit of the idealism of separation from the UK.

Derek Farmer.

Knightsward Farm,



May deserves no plaudits

Madam, – Jim Parker, in his apologia for our Prime Minister, praises her political courage and physical endurance (May is a lion among donkeys, Courier, April 10).

But what do we really owe her?

In the 2016 referendum, we voted to end membership of the corrupt, anti-democratic EU, planning a “US of Europe”, so as to restore our sovereignty and vital ability to “hire and fire” those in ultimate charge of our nation.

The London “establisment”, meanwhile, has improperly negated our vote.

Although at first claiming to seek to meet the people’s wish, Mrs May appointed a predominantly remainer Cabinet, a fanatically pro-EU civil servant as negotiator, presented a plan which repudiated the Leave decision and travelled, as a supplicant, to enact the EU politicos’ bidding.

She is thus undemocratic and mendacious, so we owe her only scorn.

Dr Charles Wardrop,

111 Viewlands Rd West,



Hot air over fresh air

Madam, – With reference to the article “Doctors will now prescribe fresh air” (Courier, April 8).

From whom have doctors been given the go-ahead to prescribe fresh air to patients, and why is this necessary?

Surely doctors have the necessary professional expertise and autonomy, without resort to “higher authority” to prescribe fresh air.

However, once prescribed, patients will have to head for the hills, a distant beach or somewhere far from polluted urban air: a difficult decision for our good doctors!

Kenneth Miln.

6 Swallow Apts,

Union St,



Inequality in this country

Madam, – I imagine that few British citizens, whether religious or not, would support Brunei’s new laws that make adultery and homosexuality punishable by stoning to death.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s concern to appear more “Islamic” has brought international condemnation and a campaign to boycott his hotels.

However in Scotland we still have a blasphemy law, religious groups and schools still enjoy exemptions from equality legislation and churches are entitled both to set up in the marriage business and choose which couples they are prepared to marry.

How to show solidarity with the people of Brunei?

Dealing with the thin end of the wedge in our own backyard might be a start.

Neil Barber,

Edinburgh Secular Society,

Saughtonhall Drive.


Uri Geller should foot the bill

Madam, – As Uri Geller has publicly claimed responsibility for causing the recent flood in the House of Commons, surely it would be rather difficult for him to bend his way out of paying were he to be sent the bill for rectifying any damage caused.

John Hein,

78 Montgomery Street,