FRANK Hotchkiss raises serious issues about the purpose of education and the place of schools in achieving the aims (Letters, December 21).

I have always believed that schools exist to foster the development of well-rounded individuals who aspire to achieve the best of which they are capable. This can only be brought about in a positive learning environment for both pupils and staff.

This ethos can be built up inter alia by mutual respect between teachers and learners, the provision of a wide range of extra-curricular activities, the positive involvement of parents and opportunities for service to the community in which the school is situated. If all of these are in place examination attainment will frequently improve.

Loading article content

In a teaching career of more than 30 years I was fortunate to serve in a number of very successful schools in Pollok, Castlemilk, Parkhead and Paisley. In none of these areas were wealthy parents thick on the ground, yet academic achievement was improved year on year and many of the pupils have gone on to have very successful careers and have contributed greatly to their own communities and to the population generally. Harnessing the goodwill of parents in the development and education of their offspring is much more important than the depth of their pockets.

Hugh H Nisbet,

50 Fereneze Grove,


IT is some time since someone has invoked corporal punishment upon my head. At least the invocation this time was not for six of the best with a Lochgelly belt (Letters, December 22).

I would suggest that, instead of asking "teachers of the old school" to give my ear some attention, Robert Martin should spend some time with teachers of the modern school, who are faced regularly in their workplaces with having to deal with:

n Children from seriously dysfunctional family backgrounds;

n Children with no support mechanisms in educational terms at home;

n Children who are persistently disruptive in the classroom, with resultant adverse effects on the potential development of others;

n Children from homes where over generations there has been no work ethic;

n Children with no respect for authority in any form, including teachers.

These are issues, which may arise in Williamwood High School (described rather simplistically in The Herald as "the best school in Scotland"), but I would suggest comparatively seldom.

The advantages such a school has are obvious to most people, including the teachers who work there and are not, therefore having to "front-line" elsewhere. It can be readily acknowledged that leadership in schools is important and can make a difference, but there are many issues that leadership on its own is unable to overcome.

Whether Robert Martin wishes to acknowledge it or not, most of the children living in his leafy suburb of Linlithgow are expected to do more than just "count, read , and write" and start off with many privileges giving them the best chance to do so.

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road,