NICOLA Sturgeon asked that we should judge her on her record in education. There is very little reason to doubt what the damning verdict would be in that case. Scotland's ratings have plummeted in the international rankings.

During the postponement of full-time education owing to the pandemic over the last year, there was plenty of time to recalibrate our country's education system to restore its credibility. Where the SNP has carelessly fumbled that pass,Willie Rennie's Liberal Democrats have picked up that loose ball to identify an important change vital to improving education.

Their policy centres around postponing the introduction of children to the formal education process until they reach the age of seven ("LibDems pledge early years overhaul with pupils starting school aged seven", The Herald, March 30).

By learning through play until that age, this would enable youngsters to to develop their motor and social skills and to reach a maturity where they can embark upon their educational career with confidence.

This particular change would bring great benefits, provided it was properly funded.Without proper funding and focusing on all the knock-on effects of such a policy, it would fail.

However, it is good to see at least one party seriously addressing the need to improve the quality of Scottish education.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.


TODAY my wife and I shall receive our second Covid vaccinations. If the UK were still in the EU, we would probably be waiting for our first. Thankfully we in Scotland “were dragged out” of the EU, which is currently perceived as an incompetent bully as its clumsy bureaucracy struggles to deal with Covid. The EU does not appear today to be an attractive proposition to any country thinking of attempting to join.

The First Minister seeks to capitalise on her (alleged) competent management of Covid. In doing so she highlights incompetent management by the EU, which serves to compromise seeking to join.

William Durward, Bearsden.


RECENT criticisms of the serious failures in infection control in Scottish hospitals demand action.The 5,000 cases of hospital-acquired Covid 19 infections from which more than 1,000 people died cannot be ignored.

In previous times infectious diseases were treated in fever hospitals kept apart from the general hospitals, with their own specially trained dedicated staff.

In light of this pandemic, the Government must seriously reconsider the provision of separate NHS infectious diseases facilities in Scotland.

Even if there is not another pandemic, other infectious diseases, including antibiotic-resistant TB, and as-yet-unknown mutations of existing bacterial and viruses will come to challenge our existing medical services. It is evidently not sufficient to presume that staff in general hospitals will have specialist infectious disease training nor that these hospitals will be suitable for treating rampant infections.

Whatever, this pandemic has shown up the weakness in our current NHS system and the need to urgently review how infectious diseases are treated and contained.This must include facilities separated from our unsuitable existing general hospitals if both staff and patients are to be kept safe.

Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh.


DAVID Clark (Letters, March 31) asks if he is alone in deploring the lack of speech clarity arising from the adoption by broadcast media of "realistic" dialogue in place of the clear "stage speech" which used to allow viewers to follow the plot without difficulty. Mr Clark can be assured that he is certainly not alone; many TV viewers whose hearing is perfectly adequate at other times now resort to subtitles when watching TV dramas. Give me audible clarity by affectation rather than realism by incomprehensible mumbling any time.

Willie Maclean, Milngavie.

* I HAVE suffered the same problems as David Clark. I simply turn on the subtitles.

Stewart McKendrick, Glasgow

* I CANNOT commiserate with David Clark over his unhappiness with mumbling actors as I gave up on TV about 25 years ago and have assiduously avoided it ever since; but I ask Mr Clark to think how bad it is for us radio listeners who are even denied the opportunity to practise the art of lip-reading. Most radio output I now also switch off because of the muttering and the present use of those higher-pitched "little girl" voices that presenters/announcers/actors, and the other females who inhabit the radio waves have to use, so over to Radio 3 I go where music does not "mutter". Bliss. As for background music ... it is a strange disease now afflicting the airwaves.

Maybe if we all left our various boxes switched off then the broadcasters would get the message, amend their ways and try to please us; a vain hope. Mr Clark is probably condemned to that "throbbing, pulsating, and irritating noise" content for ever. Or there is always the off switch and a book.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

* I WAS much amused to read the letter by David Clark saying how much more clearly the actors in the 1954 film he was watching enunciated their words in comparison with today's actors. I can only presume he and his wife were not watching On the Waterfront.

David Gray, Glasgow.