Sir, – My nine-year-old granddaughter attends a primary five class of 31 children under the control of one teacher.
Since she started at the school in primary one, she has never been in a class of fewer than 28 pupils.
Possibly the most important aspect of modern life is the education of our young children.
Classes of the sizes described are a reflection on the poor state of the Scottish education system. The SNP 2007 manifesto gave a target number of 18 for early primary classes.
I feel sorry for the poor teacher attempting to educate this large number of lively and demanding nine-year-old children but the real tragedy is that the children in
my granddaughter’s class are possibly not receiving an adequate education.
This may well put them at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives.
This is not good for Scotland.
The introduction of the named-person scheme will, I understand, cost millions of pounds as will the Gaelic signage that is being introduced by a number of Scottish local authorities.
These are possibly worthwhile initiatives but surely the essential objective is to reduce primary class sizes before spending taxpayers’ money on these, dare I say, non-essential schemes.
I hate to criticise but the Scottish Government should put their priorities in order and consider the really important aspects of education.
On the other hand, if my granddaughter’s teacher should be appointed as the named person for her pupils, she can report that the welfare of her charges is being undermined by her large class size.
John Crane. 17 Upper Kinneddar, Saline.
Efficiency of private fostering
Sir, – I was surprised to see the way in which your article, City struggling to cope with fostering demands (November 20)portrayed the relative costs of local authority in-house fostering services and those of independent and voluntary sector fostering providers (IVPs).
The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP) is a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for IVPs and the children they care for. Our members care for more than 80% of children placed with IVPs across England, Scotland and Wales.
The notion that in-house fostering services are much cheaper than IVP services is a myth that has in some ways become received wisdom for some in local authorities.
The cost analysis offered by local authorities rarely compares like-for-like fostering services. Typically, the children placed with IVPs have the highest needs and it is likely that it will cost more to care for them. In fact, when comparing children with similar needs, the costs come out at roughly the same for local authority and IVP foster care.
It is clear what a local authority is charged by an IVP for its services as they receive an invoice. The same is not true for a local authority’s own service and these are often under-costed.
Local authorities can find it difficult to accurately apportion their back-office costs.
Our work has also found that such costs may not be included at all or are included using fairly arbitrary amounts.
A given local authority will often say they are confident in their costings, but these vary so much from one local authority to another that it is hard to believe that they are all correct.
Harvey Gallagher. Chief Executive, Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers, Stanley, Durham.
Woeful state of Scottish game
Sir, – Are any of us at all surprised at Celtic exiting their second European competition in a couple of months?
Every season it is the same. Our runners-up are knocked out in the preliminary stages and then our champions are out long before Christmas.
We need to wake up and smell the coffee. The quality of football in this country is on a level with the league of Ireland.
The people in charge of our game (we all know who they are and they get money for old rope)occasionally pop their heads above the parapet to let us know they are still there but what do they actually do to help improve our game?
Eric Travers. 38 Gellatly Road, Dunfermline.
Case for Fife rail extension
Sir, – Following the Chancellor’s autumn statement and the media response by Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney, we would like to draw Scottish Ministers’ urgent attention to the need and opportunity which exist to reconnect the Levenmouth conurbation to the national rail network.
This would require relatively modest investment in infrastructure funding to reinstate the mothballed five-mile stretch of line which is fully intact and currently under Network Rail ownership.
There is a population catchment of around 50,000 in Levenmouth and the East Neuk but it is effectively isolated due to poor road and rail connections.
It has suffered economically despite significant recent private and public-sector investment in the area (Diageo, Fife Energy Park and others).
After three unsuccessful campaigns to promote this cause over the past 25 years and the completion of two expensive reports in 2008 and 2015, we listen with incredulity as the Scottish Government announces further transport investment in schemes which appear to have much weaker cases.
The apparent stress on major road improvement schemes is disappointing from a government which purports to adhere to a green agenda.
We would like to see improvement in road connections in Central Fife but the major need is for rail services and specifically the minor extension of Fife Circle services to allow Levenmouth and East Neuk residents access to work, study and leisure, especially in the Edinburgh area.
In the context of enhanced infrastructure investment opportunities there would seem no justifiable reason for continued delay in investing in an easy-to-implement and long overdue reconnection project.
(Dr) Allen Armstrong. Secretary, LevenMouth RailCampaign, 36 College Street, Buckhaven.
Unclear role of Turkey
Sir, – There has been little sympathy expressed regarding the shooting of the Russian pilot in his parachute and the attack on the Russian rescue helicopter by terrorists after a Russian Su24 fighter was shot down by a Turkish Air Force F16.
Turkey claims to have been protecting its air space, but even if the Russian aircraft had violated its airspace either accidentally or deliberately, are we expected to believe that the Russian jet was about to attack Turkey?
Accusations that Turkey is at best ambivalent and, at worst, treacherous may be gaining credibility.
Turkey has provoked an unnecessary clash between NATO and Russia with President Obama feeling obliged to declare lukewarm support for Turkey and the rest of the Western leaders maintaining an almost deafening silence.
Little has been seen or heard in the British media expressing any sympathy for the Russian aircrew.
What would the reaction have been had it been a US or British aircraft that had been shot down and its crew and rescuers murdered by terrorists?
Doubtless the West does not want to offend Turkey which can hold the West to ransom regarding granting the use of its air bases and overflying rights.
The killers of the Russian aircrews were militants supported by Turkey. But they acted as terrorists, albeit opposed to President Assad. Is it people like that Britain would be willing to see sharing power in Syria?
Malcolm McCrow. 23 Navarre Street, Dundee.
I am ashamed to be Scottish
Sir, – I am disgusted, outraged and appalled at the sheer conceit and vanity of Alex Salmond who would rather unveil a portrait of himself than attend a debate on potential air strikes in Syria.
Many in his Gordon constituency will be ashamed that the man paid to represent them chooses to promote himself once again rather than do the job he is elected to do.
This not only seems to be the will of Alex Salmond to favour vanity over real issues but the whole of the SNP.
I am ashamed to be Scottish and be associated with this party. The SNP are determined to destroy Scotland.
Please people of Scotland, wake up.
Gordon Kennedy. 117 Simpson Square, Perth.
Westminster energy sell-out
Sir, – Kudos to Dr John Cameron, who may not take the prize for joined-up thinking but does sweep the board when it comes to sheer audacity (November 27).
He condemns the Scottish government for its policy of reducing carbon in our production of electricity and for placing a carbon tax on non-green alternatives.
He presumably supports the Tory Government’s ending of subsidies for green energy production which means huge losses to those firms who have invested in solar and wind.
Meanwhile, we watch as the same UK Government sells our nuclear industry to the Chinese and guarantees them a price for their generated electricity which is double the present wholesale price and means that this huge subsidy will be added to our energy bills.
Never let it be said that I grudge the usual suspects, whose letters appear on this page, their voice in opposing the SNP and attacking the Scottish government, but I beg of them, please raise your game.
George White. 2 Cupar Road, Auchtermuchty.