“Getting it right for every child”. That’s the Scottish Government’s mantra on education – but we are a group of parents who are here to tell them that they are massively failing children, parents and teachers, certainly in one East Lothian school.

Many people will be aware of the Scottish primary school teacher’s letter which went viral, and outlined the difficulties faced by teaching staff, thanks to the Scottish Government’s refusal to fund its policy on inclusion.

That letter highlighted the violence faced by teachers in schools, due to a lack of support and finance. But it’s not only the teachers bearing the brunt of such aggressive behaviour, it’s other children, too. Everyone’s safety is being put at risk.

The children’s education is being hugely compromised, as teachers are derailed by having to deal with the more challenging children.

Children who would previously have been in special needs schools are now being placed in mainstream education, but without the additional staffing, support or funding necessary. Teachers are expected to cater for all the various children and all their various needs.

In special needs schools, the ratio of teachers to children is 1:5. In our primary school, each teacher oversees up to 32 children, several of whom may have additional support needs (ASN). Teachers are seeing violent behaviour, swearing, spitting, shouting obscenities, chair-throwing etc, and are expected to stifle this, while the rest of the class looks on.

If you have a policy of inclusion, you must have the infrastructure to support it.

Where are the support teachers, trained in mental health issues and ASN? Where are the onsite counsellors? Where are the playground supervisors? Where is the funding to pay for them?

There are simply not enough teachers in schools.

Furthermore, it would appear that schools are not always utilising help which may be offered by community support groups such as Support From The Start and Stepping Out, who can reach out to children and their parents/carers to address the issues (austerity, mental health problems, addiction, etc) that lead to the children feeling frustrated, ignored and angry.

Then their frustration and anger would not snowball into violent behaviour in schools, which is happening on an unprecedented and frankly alarming scale in our particular school – violence directed towards both teachers and other children. These episodes are so frequent, teachers are not even recording them all.

We do not see it as the fault of the teachers. They are performing as best they can in almost impossible circumstances and hostile environments. They themselves are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

As The Herald and Herald on Sunday have explored recently, 649 teachers between the ages of 21 and 40 dropped off the teaching register in 2018, while 641 left the previous year. One of the reasons must be the increasingly stressful workload with little recompense.

This is reaching crisis point.

If the Scottish Government wants to see the policy of inclusion succeed, it must release the funding necessary to pay for more support staff. It’s that simple.

Otherwise, instead of getting it right for every child, every single Scottish child will be sorely let down.

Names and addresses withheld to

protect the identities of our children


At the SNP conference, Nicola Sturgeon let down her supporters by failing to deliver the one thing they want: a date for indyref2.

Of course, SNP Commons leader, Ian Blackford leaked weeks back that, despite earlier promises, an indyref2 date wouldn’t be set.

Ms Sturgeon knows Downing Street won’t permit another independence referendum before 2023 at the very earliest. SNP politicians such as Angus MacNeil, Joanna Cherry and Mike Russell talk up achieving independence without Westminster’s agreement for a referendum, but the SNP leader is too astute to fall into that trap. She’d end up thwarted.

Ms Sturgeon pins her hopes on a general election resulting in a minority Labour administration – with the SNP providing support in exchange for indyref2. But she knows that’s a long shot.

So all she can do is to carry on as usual until the Holyrood election, using Holyrood as a platform to campaign for independence – and cross her fingers for a nationalist majority in 2021.

Martin Redfern


People who are agitating for Nicola Sturgeon to name the date for indyref2 must be either deaf or unable to interpret the current political scenario. Time and again we are told it is impossible or at least unwise to preempt the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. What is so hard to understand?

Perhaps there is a fifth column of anti-independence activists out to ensure another defeat by going to the country too soon only to lose a second – and perhaps final – time?

No one could want independence more than Nicola or those of us preparing for when the time is right. Of course we wish it could be announced tomorrow but are mature enough to wait.

Meanwhile, Yes groups all over Scotland are organised for local debate and discussion. This is the way to encourage a successful – and well-informed – outcome and not by constant negative criticism ... is The Herald one of the irritants?!

Janet Cunningham


Many will be thankful the party conference season is over. Now we can get back to the nitty-gritty.

That entails the divisive politics of the one-issue-obsessed and paranoid SNP; Labour’s never-ending factional battles and back-stabbing over ideology; the Tories continuing to be a one-woman band; the Lib Dems being stuck on a fence. Plus ca change.

Alexander McKay



Derek Rae again unfortunately produces a column with too much room for a journalist without a strong opinion (Sport, October 7). In naming a few ex-players with strong opinions he counts but two. For a balanced view he gives us three who are critical and worth listening to. Super Ally has a category of his own, as always.

The weekly column may be reasonably informative, however there is a lack of controversy which would deem it entertaining. Derek, I would be more interested and pleasantly surprised if you named the mediocre, the sycophants who infest our Scottish media clique.

I can name lots, they all use each other’s nicknames, with the added obligatory “you know”. I, however, await my own fully fledged independent weekly column.

Hamish Husband



In the middle of Mental Health Week, when our government is on a suicidal mission to take the UK out of Europe, the PM creates a diversion, by announcing she has appointed a Minister for Suicide and more funds for the Samaritans.

The presumption is suicide is a mental health problem. That, I believe, is very dangerous, because suicide is often the route that people in utter desperation because of their living conditions, are forced into. They die not because of mental illness, but because emotionally they have been battered to death, by circumstances outwith their control. The only control anyone contemplating suicide is left with, is to end their miserable existence.

Living conditions fuelled by the decade of Government austerity are literally driving the stuffing out of so many people. The young, the elderly, ex-military left without support in civvy street, NHS workers doing the work of three people. The NHS whistle­blower who was not listened to, disabled people forced through the indignity of fitness for work assessments.

The policies of our uncaring Government in Westminster that have brought austerity for the many and untold wealth for the chosen few, have driven so many of our citizens into despair.

Perhaps appointing a new Minister for Lunacy – with responsibility for working out what kind of issues people must have to think up such policies of misery – would be more appropriate than a Minister for Suicide. This new Minister, appointed to operate independently of the Government, could do more for our nation’s mental health than any Suicide Minister ever will. But that, no doubt, will be seen as a suggestion coming from a lunatic.

Max Cruickshank



My daughter was returning on the 1.30pm ferry from Ireland to Cairnryan last weekend and decided to pop into the Asda supermarket at Larne to purchase sandwiches etc for the ferry crossing.

She lifted her basket and walked around the shop to collect her goods, then approached the checkouts to note that none were open. She then asked a member of staff where she could pay – to be told that she would need to wait until 1pm to do so.

Is this a precursor to the soft border arrangements prior to our Brexit ?

George Dale