WHY does Scotland so consistently find the management of organisational change so impossibly difficult (“Strikes set to hit exams in row over plans to scrap SQA”, The Herald, November 8)? Is it some kind of indelible macho Scottish inability to show human feeling?

I would have thought that by now, the Scottish Fair Work Framework (2016) provided enough guidance on how to handle SQA employees undergoing restructuring. However, I expect that the fine words contained in it are usually lost in such circumstances – it states: “Fair work is work that offers effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect.”

I find that what invariably happens in such situations is that, sensing the ship is sinking, the officers on the bridge, in panic, scramble into the lifeboats and shout to the crew “every man for himself”. I believe that the reason for the reported “row” is most probably that entirely the wrong people are in charge of dismantling the old order of things. I feel that the employees will certainly consider that things are being done to them and not with them and that perhaps reveals something of the established culture in the SQA. Agents of change are specialist people and should have been brought in to sensitively manage this major restructuring of Scottish education without bloodshed.

Although I am against the principle of labelling students through final school examinations, which is a major work of the SQA, I am very aware that many people in power cling passionately to the notion. I find therefore the idea that young people might be held to ransom regarding their final exams is something which we must avoid at all costs and assurances must now be given to the SQA staff that they have a future in educational administration in some form.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.


THERE has been much publicity about the need to save the world’s tropical rainforests and their contribution to reducing emissions as carbon sinks.

It has been recognised that here in Scotland we have equally valuable carbon sinks, as more than 25% of our land is peatland or carbon-rich soils. So far I have heard only one brief mention from COP26; a view of the Flow Country in Caithness, but the comment was merely "We now plant more sensitively".

Wind farms, however, continue to be "planted" on upland peat. The "greenwash" excuse is that this loss can be mitigated by improving degraded peat elsewhere.

We need to increase our carbon sinks, not develop on them, or hope that restoration of damaged peat can compensate for the real loss of peatland profiles.

I would have expected the Scottish Government to publicise our valuable peatland resource in fighting climate change, not just to allow the real permanent loss of our upland peats for yet more "green" energy.

Greta Roberts,Waterside, Ayrshire.


SEEN in a local shop: "Anti-viral plastic grass cleaner" in, of course, a plastic spray bottle. Can we catch Covid, or indeed any other virus, from highly dangerous plastic grass? Whatever happened to good old-fashioned rain? Yet another example of disregard for our environment – both the product and the "grass".

Kathryn Grant, Falkirk.


KNOCK knock. Who’s there?

Isabelle. Isabelle who?

Isabelle necessary on a bike?

Absolutely. During the lockdowns, my wife and I (both pensioners) were made very aware that far too many cyclists feel they have no responsibility to make pedestrians aware of their presence. On our daily exercise walks on country roads and in the village, cyclists would regularly charge up behind us with only a last-minute shout (and sometimes not even that).

Our reactions are not what they used to be. At least our memories of bad words remain intact.

John NE Rankin, Bridge of Allan.


I AM sure that the Papal Nuncio to Great Britain, His Excellency Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, representing Pope Francis at COP26, will be accorded a warm welcome when he conducts mass for hundreds of young Catholic school pupils from all over Scotland in Coatbridge and later plants a tree in the grounds of St Ambrose, the local high school ("Papal Nuncio to plant tree in Coatbridge", The Herald, November 8 ).

I am also sure that he will be spared the experience of the Papal Nuncio, mistaken as a lady in a red dress and asked to dance by a “tired and emotional” George Brown, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, at a diplomatic function in the 1960s, who responded that he did not dance, it was the Hungarian National Anthem, and he was the Papal Nuncio.

R Russell Smith, Largs.


FURTHER to John Gilligan's letter (November 5) in response to Vicky Allan's statement about workers feeling "time-poor" due to "childcare duties" (“Issue of the day: Resign? Work less? A great work rethink”, The Herald, November 4), I should like to relate the following:

In our local, one drinker mentioned to another that his son had been babysitting the previous evening. Knowing the chap, I inquired if the child his son had been looking after was in fact his own offspring. On receiving a reply in the affirmative, I had to inform him that this is not" babysitting". It's called "staying in".

Brian Johnston, Torrance.