I WAS surprised to read that the Scottish Government is continuing to plan a fawning strategy towards universities by allowing SQA Higher exams next year to go ahead but not National 5 exams (“National 5 exams scrapped as Swinney under fire for ‘trying to spin’ fiasco”, The Herald, October 8).This is in spite of the fact that only about 40% of school leavers go to university.

The question on the table for 2021 must be: what happens to younger school leavers who do not wish to stay on and follow a Higher grade course? Do they leave school with almost nothing? Are they to be given contentious grades based on teacher internal assessments and where their secondary school is placed on the annual league tables trend as happened this year?

The published statistics from Holyrood show that 52% of pupils who leave secondary school at the end of S4 go to study at a further eduction college. Are their careers somehow not as worthy in terms of human values as those pupils who do Highers and go to university? Yet again, the elitist policies of the SNP in deferring to the demands of higher education establishments assist in divisively widening the attainment gap in the eyes of the public.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

LAST year’s exam cancellation fiasco conclusively demonstrated that replacing examinations with teacher grading leads to wild grade inflation.

So, having established that it is a sure means to destroy the credibility of a qualification system, John Swinney will now extend it to next year’s National 5s.

Moving the Higher and Advanced Higher exams back a few weeks (as we proposed months ago) is sensible, but sacrificing the integrity of the National 5 cohort’s qualifications on the alter of administrative convenience is not.

Why does every challenge have to be met with feeble capitulation? This year’s exams could have been administered appropriately had there been the will to do so. Next year’s papers could have been marked had Mr Swinney insisted the SQA just rise to the challenge and get on with it.

In the light of his track record of poor judgment, it could be argued that no specific explanation is required for Mr Swinney’s latest blunder. However, he is being moved along by a growing stream of thought in Scottish education: a general hostility to the objective assessment of pupils.

The SNP is obsessed with “closing the poverty-related attainment gap”, so, for it, this year’s exam debacle had a silver lining. When teachers made up the grades, pupils in poorer areas seemed to perform at a much higher level than they would if they actually sat the exams. So, we march onwards towards the egalitarian utopia where grades are perfectly aligned with SNP social theory, but aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

Richard Lucas, Leader of The Scottish Family Party, Glasgow G2.