MUCH water has passed under the bridge since 2015 but I have not forgotten Nicola Sturgeon announcing “Let me be clear – I want to be judged on this. If you are not, as First Minister, prepared to put your neck on the line on the education of our young people then what are you prepared to. It really matters.”

Unfortunately, Ms Sturgeon is wriggling and squirming as she tries to find some new excuse for why her neck should not be on the line. An official report posted online at the very unusual time of 8pm on Thursday shows there has been a drop of up to 10 per cent of students passing Higher exams in core subjects with 1,515 fewer pupils passing Higher English compared to the year before ("Late-night horror show as damning exam report is unveiled", The Herald, February 21).

We are judging you, First Minister, and you have failed miserably.

Jane Lax, Aberlour.

JOHN Swinney was at his Sir Humphrey Appleton best in explaining how the very poor Highers results were, in effect, an SNP triumph. Ignoring the obvious is becoming an SNP trademark. As Scotland gradually sinks down all the league tables, it is also losing its desirability to the European Union of offering membership to a state so riven with problems. It might not actually be the Tories who save the Union after all, it might be the SNP itself.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow G77.

NICOLA Sturgeon has asked that she be judged on her record on education, so the disclosure that the there is a marked decline in attainment in Highers in key subjects must be a source of worry and embarrassment for her, but perhaps not. The results, showing a decline in our gold standard in education is a serious worry for all of us who care deeply for the future prospects of our young people, when they will have to compete for university places against young people from other countries who are achieving much better grades. A cynic might say that this situation might benefit the SNP Government as our pupils will not have the qualifications to apply for university, so solving the cap on university places for Scottish pupils.

However, the downward trend in Highers is even more worrying as it will almost certainly be a deterrent to future foreign investors who will be looking for a highly educated workforce, and sadly Scotland is increasingly unable to supply such a pool of talent.

Maureen Henry, Bearsden.

I WAS interested to note that there is to be a review of Curriculum for Excellence by OECD on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Because the nature and outcome of any such review is critical, it would be very useful to know the answers to a number of questions.

1. The nature and extent of the review, its subsequent report and timetable.

2. The composition and size of the OECD team. For example, will it be composed of academics selected from several countries or will it include experienced Heads of education from authorities or regions, headteachers, teachers who have been through similar experiences?

3. The actual gathering of evidence. For example, will it include meetings/ discussions with representatives of the principal teaching unions, the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, the Association of Headteachers and Deputies in Scotland, universities and further education, SQA? How many schools will be visited, classes seen and senior and unpromoted staff met to see the curriculum in action and its consequences?

4. Does the above basis for gathering evidence seem over-ambitious, impractical or implausible? I suggest not, but such an exercise requires the use of suitably experienced and qualified people, time and effort to form the basis of an effective review. If the review does not extend beyond a potentially cursory visit, then, I suggest, it is a waste of time and money and will have little credibility and, sadly, fail to resolve perceived weaknesses in the current provision.

At the very least, it would help if the Government publicises its proposals as soon as possible.

GPD Gordon, Bearsden.

ONE gets the very strong impression from the BBC, and indeed from the media in general, that nothing goes right in Scotland and there is one "problem" after another to report on a daily basis, but not much to praise.

It might be helpful then if The Herald and even the BBC, were to look at the international sepsis problem of terrible infections, with a high death rate in world hospitals which is increasing in most countries.

The NHS in Scotland strongly reversed that trend in the period 2018-2019, which shows a remarkable 50per cent-plus reduction in one year. This appears to be as a result of more effective hospital cleaning services. The new level of sepsis infection in Scottish hospitals is half of the level in England and only one-third of the level in the United States. So perhaps you could look into this and give Scotland some credit for a change and do something useful by drawing attention to other health providers what is being achieved by the Scottish NHS. This could help to save many lives.

Andy Anderson, Saltcoats.

SO Nicola Sturgeon’s man, Angus Robertson, and her potential nemesis, Joanna Cherry are battling it out for the chance to stand for the SNP in the Edinburgh Central Holyrood seat next May ("SNP battle looms over Holyrood candidacy", the Herald, February 20). There are few prizes for guessing who she'd prefer to have at Holyrood next year. Someone Ms Sturgeon can rely on to back her unquestioningly, or the other: a woman with growing support amongst dyed-in-the-wool party separatists and a track record of challenging the SNP leader's actions?

Martin Redfern, Edinburgh EH10.

Read more: More time needed for exam improvements after pass rate drop