I WAS encouraged to read your report of a proposal to establish the post of "lead teacher" in our schools ("£47k-a-year specialist teachers ‘will help plug recruitment gaps’", The Herald, June 16).

One of the biggest mistakes in recent years was to abolish the post of the subject principal teacher. Some 20 years ago, the restructuring of promoted posts in secondary schools saw principal teachers, the key subject specialists, replaced by faculty heads. It was quite clear that this restructuring was carried through on the grounds of financial savings; it certainly was not as a consequence of an analysis of the relative educational merits of the respective posts.

We now have faculty heads with responsibility for a group of subject departments – for the members of these departments, the quality of their teaching, the strength of the different curricula, staff development needs, assessment, discipline, pupil support, the required resources, the internal and external exam requirements and SQA arrangements. The faculty heads meanwhile may only be qualified to teach one of the subjects for which they are responsible. This has meant a loss of crucial subject expertise and experience. In addition, the principal teachers, as key middle managers, played an absolutely vital part in the effective running of the school. Furthermore, the marked reduction in promoted posts in secondary schools seriously restricts career development for teachers and must be a disincentive for recruitment.

I am sure that the introduction of these lead teacher posts will be welcomed by all with an interest in the success of our secondary schools.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.


HAVING watched the two-hour Scottish Parliament debate on drug deaths I was impressed that the majority of MSPs clearly understood the complexity of why we have the highest drug deaths in Europe ("Calls for legal right to drugs rehab as Sturgeon admits ‘policy errors’", The Herald, June 18).

I was also heartened by how many of the contributors to that debate understood that we have for decades failed to provide compassionate care for individuals and families trapped in addiction to all drugs including alcohol, our biggest problem.

Again and again there was support for safe drug injection rooms where addicts who are missed by drug support services can start to get the help they need and deserve. The lack of residential rehabilitation, with only 418 beds in Scotland, and 61,500 addicts competing for them, along with 106,000 alcoholics, was flagged up by all parties.

The need to change the out of date and totally ineffective UK drug laws is clearly well understood by most of our MSPs.

The only party opposed to law changes and drug injection rooms is the Conservative Party. They are also the only party that didn’t understand that demanding that the only successful outcome from treatments for drug addiction is total abstinence will condemn our longest-term drug users to a death sentence. That baseline is far from what they could hope to achieve to turn around their decades of addiction, made worse by Tory drug policies that are stuck in the middle of the last century.

But have no fear, the Tories have announced that they are off in a huddle over the summer to draft a bill that they say will save the day. It would put in law that addicts must be given treatment immediately they decide to ask for it, and especially residential rehabilitation, which the Tories see as the gold standard, and it is not.

This approach is doomed to failure, because there are not enough rehab beds, or drugs workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and the plethora of other proven-to-work interventions that are provided by the overpriced private drug clinics. They charge £3-4K per week so they can grab their 40 per cent profit from those trapped in addiction. What is the point of a new law that demands treatments we have no chance of delivering?

There is no point but it will prove yet again that the Tories and the Westminster Government have no real interest in what happens to people they see as hapless, non-productive addicts.

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.


I SHARE William Durward’s regret about the death of James Crawford, Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge (Letters, June 18). Along with Professor James Boyle, Prof Crawford wrote the legal advice to the Westminster Government concerning independence following the 2014 referendum. Their view was certainly that rUK would be considered to be the successor state to the UK, and that Scotland would have to reapply to join international organisations. However, he gives no insight into why any application would be in doubt. Does he really think Scotland would not be admitted to the UN (open to all “peace-loving states), or for instance to Nato, bearing in mind our strategic position at one end of the North Atlantic Gap?

Professors Crawford and Boyle argue England (or rUK) would claim, as it did, to be the “continuator state” (as they put it) or "successor state" to the UK. However, on the disintegration of the USSR, Russia claimed successor status, and thus was rewarded inter alia with the USSR’s UN Security Council seat, but it also had to accept under the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in Respect of State Property, Archives and Debts, “full responsibility for all the rights and obligations of the USSR under the Charter of the United Nations, including financial obligations” (ie debts are the responsibility of the successor state).

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.


WILLIAM Durward asks an important question when he asks whether Scotland’s new law officers will support an independence referendum.

As a young man at the start of my career in local government, I was taught that the soundest way to establish the lawfulness of any policy was to test it by seeking opinion from counsel known to be hostile to it. In this way, a watertight case could be constructed – “if even [usually] he is in favour, it must be OK...”

This was of course in the late 1970s, and since then this modus operandi has been abandoned in favour of buying the most favourable opinion that lawyers can sell, with notably poor results such as we see in the current Northern Ireland protocol.

The Scottish Government would do well, therefore, to make sure that its legal advisors are not Yes women or men, and will indeed fight tooth and nail against its wish to circumvent the law of the land on the issue of a further referendum.

Peter A Russell, Glasgow.

I AM somewhat mystified by Iain Macwhirter’s book review (“Can Brown and Miliband fix the world?”, Herald Magazine , June 19).
While Mr Macwhirter admits that both Mr Miliband’s and Mr Brown’s recent books contain “many sensible ideas, a lot of humanity”, that both are “clearly on the side of the good and champions of the reasonable and humane”, that Gordon Brown is a “genuine intellectual and a statesman of immense experience” he does a good job of attempting to diminish the hopes of those of us who see in these authors rare glimpses of a future founded on compassion and justice.
He does so by using such phrases as “hopey-changey rhetoric”, “thunderous banality” and by accusing Mr Brown in particular of “dragging in” every cause and individual from Black Lives Matter to Sir David Attenborough who come over as “a moral chorus line in a pageant of platitudes”. He may well claim to be referring to Mr Brown’s writing style but I suggest that if so he goes over the top, the impact being that his criticism carries over into disapproval of Mr Brown’s political intent which effect I suspect may not be entirely unintentional.
Furthermore he makes some assertions that can be readily challenged such as “nobody is going to argue against combating climate change, eradicating poverty ….”. Where has Mr Macwhirter been living in the past 10 years? He believes that the social democratic left has nothing to offer and that the pandemic will not open doors to a more hopeful future. In fact he seems to write off all hope, which is essential to the realisation of any civilised programme for such a future.
John Milne, Uddingston.

I MUST share the concern expressed in your report about the NHS in Scotland sharing patients' health information with university researchers and private companies without their consent such a safeguard.("Fears over £63m plan to exploit medical records", The Herald, June 19).
Despite NHS assurances that the anonymity of patients would be protected, in the past NHS databases have been hacked and we now live in a world bedevilled by cybercrime which has destroyed public faith in the security of internet data.
When confidential information is released to academic institutions and private firms, one must be concerned that security could become secondary to research and the pursuit of profits and therefore it's only right that patients are given the opportunity to opt-out, however cumbersome the procedure might be.
In general, I have no strong objections to the release of my personal health information which might bring benefits to other people but beforehand I would like to receive an explanation of why the transfer of data is necessary and be given the chance to opt-out. I trust Nicola Sturgeon will bring in such a safeguard.
Bob MacDougall, Kippen.