WE already know that children in schools in deprived areas of Scotland achieve far poorer results in exams such as Highers than those in affluent areas. It is also the case that children in deprived areas have a far greater incidence of “development” problems, whether related to difficulties with speech or social skills or behaviour (“Poor children likelier to have behaviour and speech issues”, The Herald, April 10). These things are not unconnected. Educational progress depends on being able to articulate problems and solutions and on interaction with others. Those unable to behave in a disciplined manner are unlikely to apply themselves to learning, and that application needs to be acquired from the earliest years.

It seems that “looked-after” children are twice as likely to have developmental problems as those not brought up in local authority care. In the lottery of life, children with attentive parents who work at their social skills, behaviour and speech fare better at school than those with parents who cannot or will not attend to these matters. That is scarcely a surprise. It also seems, however, that poor parenting is better than no parenting.

The solution to this is not to have the First Minister as self-styled “chief mammy” of the nation but to ensure that every child has the attention he or she needs. This would involve two problems: first, as always, money. But money spent on developing children into achievers and responsible citizens would be repaid in later years, with fewer offenders and fewer people in need of support in adulthood.

Second, the thorny problem of inadequate parenting implies a need for intervention in families with problems. Whether people worry about the “nanny state” or authoritarian intrusion, this is a nettle that needs to be grasped. Until it is, there will be no solution to the poor development that currently blights some children in deprived areas of Scotland.

Jill Stephenson,

Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh.

THE concept of integrated health and social care is not new (“Challenge of delivering integrated care policy”, Agenda, The Herald, April 11). Professor Sir William Ferguson Anderson of Glasgow was an advocate of early intervention and preventative work following a shift in the late 1950s from institutional to client-centred support.

Fast forward to now. What percentage of the integrated health and social care budget goes to the grass-roots third sector groups who scrap for funds from local authorities, trusts and so on, whose incomes have also been vastly reduced?

Where is the courage to invest at basic low-level in care and support? The third sector makes a little go a long way.

Let’s make quality and choice a target. Hard to measure, but equally important. Or will we go on as we have done since the 1930’s ...lots of talk but not substance.

The recent Audit Scotland Report: Health and Social Care Integration: an update on progress (November 2018) Appendix 3 raises many issues, none more so than budget uncertainty.

Small community charities which support the elderly will cease to function in the funding mire. You don’t miss it until it’s gone.

Now is the time to support the third sector in real terms.

Gerard Healy,

3/2, 50 Langton Road, Glasgow.