IN support of Stan Grodynski (Letters, June 3), when I was in my sixth year at school, I sat three CSYS maths papers and was entered for the English A-level as well. (This was regarded by the head of department as a "fun thing" to do.) I distinctly remember looking at the first page of the first Scottish exam – in Abstract Algebra and Number Systems – and thinking for the first time in my life in a maths exam: "Forget about getting any of these questions out – I can't even see the obvious place to start."

Having been told in the media throughout my childhood that A-levels were the gold standard in education, within seconds my next thought was "what the hell is the A-level going to be like?".

I was truly shocked when, a month later, I opened the first page of the A-level and saw that every single question in the paper was completely trivial in comparison to the Scottish maths exams. So much for the "gold standard" I had been brainwashed into believing existed.

This was confirmed just a few years ago when I spoke to an admissions tutor at Cambridge University about a very talented maths student and was told: "Oh yes, we all know that the Scottish mathematicians are much better – they always have been." The kicker to the story? The tutor I spoke to was himself English.

I know that there are many critics of the state of Scottish education just now but, as someone on the inside with almost 30 years of experience, I can confirm that, in maths at least, standards are holding up well.

David Patrick, Edinburgh.


I NOTE your report on Labour MSP Monica Lennon accusing Women’s Health Minister Maree Todd of turning NHS staff into "bouncers" ("‘Bouncers’ fury over abortion protests", The Herald, June 3). With Glasgow hospitals and clinics being heavily targeted by anti-abortion protesters, women accessing these facilities are nervous, but what exactly does Ms Todd expect hospital staff to do?

The police were recently called to Sandyford clinic but no action was taken. Are the clinics expected to take nurses off shift to act as escorts? Are doctors supposed to stand outside with their own signs and megaphones? Should sonographers employ Extinction Rebellion strategies and glue themselves to the road to prevent protesters from harassing their patients? The answer is not to put even more pressure on already-stretched hospitals. The answer is simple: protest-free buffer zones around abortion care facilities. As soon as possible.

As a teacher, I have become accustomed to laughable Government "solutions" to school Covid infection rates such as sawing the bottom off doors, expecting young children to be able to socially distance or the ridiculous party line that schools were magical zones where Covid couldn’t spread. Obviously it’s not just education staff who have to endure these uninformed suggestions. Government ministers would do well to talk to public sector workers and find out what is actually going on out here in the real world.

Gemma Clark, Howwood.


I AGREE with Douglas McBean, (Letters, June 2) that the Scottish Conservatives' proposal for a "right to recover" for addicts is neither radical nor practical. All the parties are agreed that the high drugs deaths rate in Scotland is unacceptable, and that new approaches to recovery are needed.

We have had 50 years of the UK Government following the lead of the Americans in draconian drugs laws and approaches to recovery. All these have failed because they see illicit drug use and addiction as a criminal justice issue. They have spent billions on policing and dumping addicts in jail with hundreds of others stuck in their addictions, leaving these prisoners with no hope of any meaningful treatment. The approach to drugs education has been that illicit drugs kill, when the public know only too well that this is not true, so they ignore most of the health advice offered by our governments. For many decades there have been far more deaths from the two legalised drugs tobacco and alcohol than illicit drugs. The failed UK drugs laws prevent our devolved parliament from experimenting with more holistic and proven approaches to recovery from all addictions, as has been happening in Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and many other countries over the last decade or more.

Douglas Ross is particularly keen to provide instant access to residential rehabilitation which costs £3-4k a week when he knows that there are only 418 beds in Scotland and more than 12,000 with addictions competing for them. The private sector which mainly provide these rehab clinics complains that there are very few accessing these beds with NHS funding. That does not surprise me because the evidence that such an approach works is hard to find; as far as I can ascertain, their success rate is around 5-10%. So we would be spending scarce NHS funding of £38,000 to £48,000 for 12 weeks of treatment that barely works. How can the Scottish Conservatives justify that crazy and failed approach to recovery?

If the Scottish Conservatives do want to prove that they really do care about drug deaths, I suggest, yet again, that they should use their energies and influence to persuade their political masters in Westminster that devolving drug laws to Scotland would be a really cost-effective, humanitarian and radical thing to do. If we were given that power and were successful then the whole of the UK would benefit.

Max Cruickshank, Glasgow.

THELMA Edwards’ letter (June 4)had me searching for any player called Jarvis who might have featured in a 1950 Radio Times article about the FA Cup.
There was a Harry Jarvis who played for Notts County in the 1950s, but not in the 4th round cup tie in which Burnley won 4-1 at Notts County (whose team included Tommy Lawton) in January 1950 before a crowd of over 43,000, which might have merited a radio broadcast.
There was a Bart Purvis who played for Notts County that season as a full back, but his few appearances were unlikely to include an FA Cup tie.
And it can’t have been Jarvis Kenrick, who scored the first ever goal in the FA Cup …. in 1871.
But thanks for sending me down more than one rabbit hole.
To be continued?
George Kirrin, Beckenham.