THE failure to enlist retired teachers back into the profession and the scarcity of supply teachers comes as no surprise ("Teacher absences hit new high as call-out of lapsed staff bombs", The Herald, January 14). These teachers left for the following reasons:

* The initial SNP budget cuts in 2009-2010 targeted the most experienced, that is, those the furthest up the pay scale. The loss of highly skilled staff with the experience of implementing new curriculi and also the courage to dispatch inferior approaches to the bottom drawer, no doubt added to the troubles that beset the introduction of the bourach that was/is the Curriculum for Excellence, described by Keir Bloomer as "self-evident lunacy".

* The increase in political interference/micro-management by those who were either completely ignorant as to the purpose of the model adopted or too hypocritical to admit that it was budget-based, thus the creation at a later stage of the Pupil Equity Fund to assist schools in deprived areas; the model, borrowed from England, was abandoned by Michael Gove in 2014 due to falling standards.

* The introduction of so-called behaviour management strategies, for example "Assertive Discipline", the "restorative" practices, "inclusion" at all costs, which made a mockery of classroom discipline, undermining teacher authority .

* The changes to the remuneration levels of supply teachers. A role that requires insight, experience and flexibility was deemed to be less worthy than that of full-time staff.

* The conduct of the SNP Government during this pandemic, its decisions regarding exams, teacher assessments, its disregard for the health and safety of staff, provide more than sufficient reason for both retired and supply staff to say "no, thank you".

You reap what you sow and if this situation hasn't taught the SNP hierarchy a lesson then nothing will.

Maureen McGarry-O'Hanlon, Balloch.


I LOVE the fact that your headline writers have converted the sex survey into a "sex quiz" ("SNP councils refuse to hold pupil sex quiz as anger grows", The Herald, January 17). Excellent: that says all you need to know about this ridiculous proposal. It is amazing that anyone believes it can deliver useful or accurate information.

The article inside helpfully details one of the questions on sexual experience, along with its multiple choice answer: oral sex, vaginal or anal sex. It follows this up with the killer question: "How many people have you had sexual intercourse with in the past 12 months?" Now, whilst some kids won't have a clue what any of this means, some will probably be totally embarrassed, some will treat it with the disdain it deserve: so, oral sex, tick; anal sex, tick; vaginal sex, tick and as for number of experiences – let's say five a week and I leave you to do the maths.

It is interesting that you, on a theme of sex, schools and kids, have placed the main body of the report on the survey next to an article detailing the complaint from one teachers' union that some high school children are humiliating teachers by photoshopping pictures of them, mixing in voices and posting the resulting dubious creations on various websites ("Pupils humiliating teachers through harmful content", The Herald, January 17). If pupils, even a small number, are doing this, then why on earth do those who thought up this crazy survey not imagine that they will trash the survey?

There's a lot of angst about the appropriateness of the questions. That's not the problem. The whole idea is nuts.

Judith Gillespie, Edinburgh.


WHAT is the problem with the SNP? It seems obsessed by sex. First we had the very disruptive and controversial gender debate and now the odious questionnaire to be sent to all secondary schoolchildren asking them about their sexual experience. What on earth is that all about? Asking underage children to answer such questions is outrageous. Why? What was the SNP going to do with the information? It beggars belief.

I am glad so many councils have declined to have anything to do with this, but I would seriously like to know what was the point of such an intrusive questionnaire in the first place.

Celia Judge, Ayr.


I MUST report confusion over the new legislation over smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms. The booklet that the Scottish Government sent out was a very helpful one in almost all respects, except for some confusion on the non-interlinked carbon monoxide alarm.

Some confusion could arise over the need for one in the kitchen if only a gas hob is present, as under the heading "Will I need anything else?" mention is made of specific appliances requiring one, yet no mention is made of gas hobs, despite boilers, fires, heaters or flues being highlighted. Pages three and four of the booklet do however show a CO monitor in the kitchen, but with only a detector-requiring wall-mounted boiler highlighted, no specific mention of gas hobs.

I then did the sensible thing for anyone in doubt, and called the Gas Safe Register. The gentleman I spoke to could not give me a definitive answer. After some discussion with my friend Billy, he suggested a trip to the pet shop to purchase a canary, with free rein to fly throughout the house and cover all eventualities.

George Dale, Beith.


FACTORS other than parental choice of name may sometimes in the short term be reflected in the wee recipient’s perception ("Parents pick names to stand out", The Herald, January 17), as witness Billy – “William” of that ilk – Connolly, who tells us that for some years he answered to “Dammit”, from his pater’s “Shut the door, Dammit”.

In my own case family merriment continued into my teenage years having precociously uttered “Ussy Fish” as a toddler.

In a different class was the lady who advised that the infant’s name was “Yivinny”, where “Yvonne” had taken her fancy in some romantic fiction.

R Russell Smith, Largs.