A PROPORTION of your correspondents, and (sadly, many) less informed members of the Scottish Parliament, should be wary of welcoming the recent OECD report. While that was critical of the examination system at the senior level, it made clear its expectations for a wider notion of achievement than is currently provided. Thus, exams will not be "tougher" and more "rigorous" in the future in traditional terms, but will test and affirm wider abilities and capacities. So, for some to say this is a vindication of a return to old ways is well wide of the mark, and rightly so.

If you can find information on the internet, why should you be asked to produce the same thing, without resources, in an examination hall? Is writing an essay/exam answer on one, stressful, occasion, the only way to be judged? Of course not.

Many school leavers aim for university on current SQA terms – but similar assessment practices (exam halls) have all but disappeared in the university sector. It makes no sense. Let's move on to a more coherent and contemporary system.

However, since education is a current and rewarding political football for opposition parties, it is inevitable that those working in the system will remain victims of this undignified and muddied environment for the foreseeable future. We need space to re-adjust.

Professor Donald Gillies, Dean of the School of Education and Social Sciences, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley.


I, AND I expect many other readers, will largely be in accord with John McTaggart (Letters, June 24) in his suggestion that in fundamentally reviewing the delivery of Scottish education in the light of the recent critical OECD report, we should reconsider what he refers to as “ high stakes exams”.

However, I feel we should go further as we may be simply replacing one monster – the SQA ­– with another. The need for any form of secondary school final assessment at specific subject level should be questioned as it still focuses on the performance of young people who are maturing individually, while only in their late teens. School leavers learn enough about negative judgmentalism both at home and school and it eventually can breed bigotry and prejudice. Who are we assessing for? Who desperately needs to differentiate an A pass from a C pass?

Is it not enough for most employers and end users to know that pupils leaving school have succeeded in the four capacities of CfE – becoming a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor? If anyone wants more information on specific subjects for good reason, they could contact the school in future. There are several ways of ensuring consistency in standards apart from a centralised qualifications authority which presides like the Gods of Olympus.

For many young people who are academically inclined and encouraged, the SQA certification facility can provide a meal ticket for life and opens doors to university. For others who are much less interested in academe, then unflattering national certificates have often provided people going into adulthood with what can sometimes have a barrier value not so very different from that of a criminal record.

We must start renewing the Scottish education process by concentrating on growing individual plants and stop regarding it, as many do, as an annual crop.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.


GLASGOW City Council has rejected a planning application for the Lyceum Cinema in Govan, a 1930s "super cinema" designed by Charles J McNair and, for my money, his masterpiece ("Cinema revamp plan is rejected", The Herald, June 23).

One reason for rejection of the application is that the council says that the plans would "detrimentally impact" the building. Given its sad and neglected state, it’s difficult to imagine almost anything making it worse.

I have serious concerns that one morning I’ll pick up my Herald and discover that this elegant, beautiful and unique building will have to be demolished because it’s unsafe.

Stuart Neville, Clydebank.


WHAT a strange Scotland. We have a record number of coronavirus cases, we are prohibited from going to Manchester but if there is extra time and penalties in the European football then our pubs can stay open – even if we have no direct interest in the competition ("Pubs will be allowed to stay open later if Euro 2020 matches go to extra time", The Herald, June 23).

How peculiar.

James Watson, Dunbar.


I WOULD like to add to the letter by Stewart Daniels (June 22). Various Scottish political parties are asking us questions that seem divisive to me. Are you black or are you white? Are you LGBT or are you straight? Are you gender-neutral, male or female? The SNP, Greens and LibDems especially come to mind here. Why don't they just ask us “Are you human?"

Geoff Moore, Alness.


I EXPECT R Russell Smith (Letters, June 22) acknowledges that he will be old some day because having been born in the mid 1930s he is starting to hear Time's winged chariot. Having been born as recently as the late 30s, I reckon I won't start thinking this way until the first time I catch myself pausing and considering before buying a refill for my ballpoint pen.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.

Read more: SNP must stop being timid and properly back our teachers