WHILE the Scottish Government concentrates on saving the First Minister and drafting yet another referendum bill, Audit Scotland has released a damning report on Scottish education ("Fears for poor as education attainment gap persists", The Herald, March 23). Some of us may remember that Nicola Sturgeon asked us to judge her on her record on education. She must regret saying that now.

The report confirms that Scotland's education system is a shadow of its former self. We already know that we no longer rate highly in international comparisons, but we are also now told that within Scotland, the most disadvantaged youngsters continue to receive an even poorer deal.

The attainment gap is not closing; indeed, some authorities are now performing worse than previously, including those who received the extra funding for the attainment challenge. Who knew that throwing small amounts of money at schools, with no clear programme for improvement, would make little or no difference to outcomes?

How big is the gap? For pupils achieving five awards at National 5 level, the range is from 26.5 per cent to 71.5%. Does anyone detect even a whiff of social justice in these statistics? The 2015 OECD comment that it is worse to be poor in Scotland than in any other part of the UK still stands.

Scotland cannot compete in a global world with an education system which fails both its young people and the teachers who are obliged to implement misguided policies. This mediocre performance, year on year, will handicap our economy now and in the future. Let's face it, it is not difficult to judge Ms Sturgeon on her track record in education.

Carole Ford, Former secondary head teacher, Glasgow.

* LIKE many members of my generation who left school in the 1960s at the age of 14 or 15 without any qualifications, the entry route to higher education was through attendance at night school. I clearly remember attending one such class at Langside College, Glasgow. The year was 1970 and the subject was A level sociology. A significant part of the course concerned the relationship between social class and educational attainment. Much of the work of the course centred on studying research material from the 1950s, and indeed from the 1930s.

In the intervening half-century I have lived through deep and profound social, economic, technological and scientific change. Reading the Audit Scotland report makes me aware there are at least some areas of life were change has not been so apparent.

Brian Harvey, Hamilton.


WILLIAM Thomson (Letters, March 23) believes that hydrogen cars are a better concept than electric cars. He claims that the sea is “an infinite source” of this fuel. Presumably he means by electrolysis via wind, solar or nuclear electricity. A massive problem with electrolysis is energy losses during the chain of energy conversions from electricity leaving an electrical generator to the final kinetic energy of a moving vehicle. Research papers suggest that the energy losses would likely be up to 66 per cent, and the public would need to pay for this wasted energy.

Further, hydrogen has a low energy content by volume so it has to be highly compressed. And any metal in the storage container would suffer embrittlement due to the metal absorbing hydrogen atoms.

Lastly, hydrogen is arguably more dangerous than normal liquid fuel, particularly in enclosed spaces. It is more likely to reach ignition sources, it is more likely to ignite, and the blast pressure is considerably higher. It burns with an invisible flame.

The so-called hydrogen economy is just a pipe dream.

Geoff Morrie, Alness.


I WAS struck by the response of BBC reporter Zoe Kleinman to the proposed move to Glasgow of her department (Herald Diary, March 23). Nothing to do with her dismay at this move but the quality of her written English: “....it is a personal and painful moment for my amazing team and I.”

I think I’d prefer such quality reporting to stay where it is.

Forbes M Dunlop, Glasgow.


FOOTBALLER Frank Worthington, whose death has just been announced, was indeed the ultimate showman, but unlike so many before and since, he never let his antics affect his mastery on the field. Worthington had class in spades, and the old 1970s Leicester City with striker Worthington and keeper Mark Wallington were worth 10 "superstar" sautéed Liverpools and Arsenals any day.

One abiding memory of Frank as a child was his interview for Shoot! magazine – regarded as an "honour" in football at the time, but which as ever he chose to satirise.

His answers included: "Most Difficult Opponent? The Taxman"; "Biggest Thrill? Playing Bradford City in a practice match"; "Lifetime Ambition? To get away from nosey reporters like you!"; "Who in the world would you most like to meet? The person who nicked my hubcaps last Thursday."

Farewell, you crazy fox.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone.


ALLAN C Steele rightly commends TV channel Talking Pictures for its suitability viewing guides. The channel does, however, overstate its case in awarding a 12 certificate to as innocuous a programme as Rumpole of the Bailey, on the grounds that some viewers may be offended by the attitudes of the time. Perhaps this refers to Rumpole's description of his wife Hilda as "She who must be obeyed".

Who on earth could this offend? On second thoughts and in the interest of domestic bliss, I shall take no steps to find out.

David Miller, Milngavie.