I WAS bemused by your article on yet another example of Holyrood’s arrogant belief in its own omnipotence (“Ministers are urged to draw up a ‘violence in schools’ strategy", The Herald, May 23).

I suggest that what I consider to be the SNP strategy of promoting university entrance for all as the main goal of schools has contributed to the creation of school disaffection among some pupils. Too often the secondary curriculum becomes biased towards the academic world and we know that no child is motivated by the prospect of failure. I consider the situation to be condoned by the very Scottish Government ministers in question who have largely come through the university world and are convinced it is the only algorithm for success in life.

I maintain that schools and local authorities should be left to solve any pupil behaviour problems by being empowered and resourced to employ greater flexibility on how education is delivered. The only way in which I envisage the Scottish Government being involved is to re-establish independent teacher training courses within specialised colleges and staffed with very experienced and successful teachers who know what young people are really like.

The awaited final review report on assessment from Professor Hayward may go some way towards assisting pupil conduct. However there are many powerful institutions she will have to win over if attitudes are to change significantly on what schools are about.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

Old values worked well

MARK Smith ("We are all to blame for indiscipline in schools", The Herald, May 19) is quite correct to lay the blame for the deterioration of pupil behaviour in our schools at the feet of parents and the lack of proper enforcement available to teachers. The same could be said for the huge increase in violence in our hospitals, in doctors surgeries and anywhere that people are dealing with the public.

Last week (May 16) you published a letter of mine on further education versus apprenticeships and it’s clear that my generation had more respect and indeed fear, of authority. I believe we were probably more aggressive within our peer group and certainly more robust but tended to change behaviour for the better as we faced our teachers, doctors, policemen and so on.

In our need to put “children first” we have thrown the baby out with the bath water. Teachers can hardly apply any rules of discipline and are being turned into social workers, not teachers.

The clue is in the word Teacher, “to instruct or impart knowledge”. This horrendously complicated society we’ve created basically means teachers can’t “ instruct” pupils at all. Their role is now a contradiction in terms.

Mark Smith hints at a fear of returning to Victorian punishments, and rightly so. This should not be confused with the need for pupils to come into school, sit down, keep quiet and speak when spoken to. Listen and learn.

One thing is for sure: despite leaving school at 16 my friends and I were all competent in reading, writing and arithmetic. We also had a healthy respect for our elders and had to accept the consequences of our actions.

Sadly, given a choice of returning to Victorian punishments or moving forward into total chaos, I’d have to choose the former.

John Gilligan, Ayr.

• DAVID Bruce (Letters, May 23) notes that there are standards of “teacher restraint”.

My own memories of unjustified punishments taught me a valuable lesson: that you do have to stand up for yourself and that no one said that everything in life is fair.

I’m reminded of an amusing tale in Tom Shields' Diary where a Milanda bread delivery boy was being belted despite his protests in a mass class punishment simply through being present. The lesson is no less appropriate in today’s dystopian world where brutal unjust deserts are handed out to those who have little recourse.

No doubt teaching today is a tough but rewarding environment and I bear no grudges for the lessons I hope that I learnt.

Tom Law, Sandbank, Argyll and Bute.

Read more: Holly and Phil show relies on revelations in the next instalment

Put spotlight on ITV bosses

I REMEMBER it occurring to me one time watching Strictly that I may have briefly met one of the celebrity contestants some years before, sharing a wee bit extra in the harmless pre-Christmas fun of her subsequent win as someone who wasn't entirely a stranger to me.

I loathe live daytime television broadcasters with exactly the snobbery Catriona Stewart takes the easy high ground to accuse me of ("Talking heads guilty of awful snobbery over Holly and Phil", The Herald, May 23), avoiding even the offering of my preferred radio stations to their widely separate evening experience.

Nevertheless, for all their mannered fake sincerity, unctuous chumminess and schmoove, I recognise light presenters like Philip Schofield are far from shallow; they are skilled tradespeople in a rarefied field, with a talent equivalent to the different but equally formulaic artifice of a Newsnight interrogator.

How ironic that as we are tiresomely urged to be sensitive to mental health for – gasp – one whole week in the year, we are at the same time invited to delight in the clear distress under quite extreme off-screen personal pressures of this basically harmless public figure, who at worst is mildly annoying as a matter of taste? I've been just as guilty as Ms Stewart.

Might I suggest then that the ball is under another cup here, and that comment would be better targeted scrutinising the executive tier at ITV? We should sincerely hope they will apply a duty of care in these circumstances hard-learned from the tragedy Caroline Flack's family live with.

James Macleod, Glasgow.

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The loan arranger
YOU recommend a visit to the Jim Clark Museum ("Cascade of visual artistry on display", Herald Magazine, May 20). The piece is illustrated with a photo ostensibly of Jim but actually of Dario Franchitti, another great Scottish racing driver himself. It looks like he is seated in the Lotus Cortina which Jim raced and which I believe Dario now owns and loaned to the museum.
Grant McKechnie, Glasgow.

C'mon the sharks

YOU report that “a shark in the Florida Keys has bitten the foot of a fisherman who had reeled it in” ("In Brief: Summerland Key, The Herald, May 22). Sorry, but I’m with the shark on this.

You say the angler was flown to hospital and I hope they make a full recovery. But what about the shark? I hope it got back in the water uninjured, too.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.