ANDREW Denholm's report seems to raise more questions regarding the agenda behind the think tank Reform Scotland than answers to its motivation (“Warning as subject choice at secondary schools continues to decline”, The Herald, April 23).

The Reform Scotland report is titled “National 4 and 5s: the accidental attainment gap” which is odd, since the report focuses more on entry statistics. Although the report does not make any overt reference to university entrance requirements, many will suspect that the statistical exposition of exams sat at National 4 and 5 levels is simply pointing out the knock-on effect for future Higher subject presentations.

However, one answer to a decline in subject choice in our secondary schools is for the Scottish Government’s Secretary for Education and Skills to inform our universities that we have grown tired of the tail wagging the dog. It is perhaps time that Scotland was in line with many other countries and our universities designed and held their own entrance exams.

Such a development would take the pressure and to some extent the responsibility off the shoulders of our secondary schools who are judged by some on how well they feed our universities. It would also give more freedom for the secondary school curriculum to enable schools to teach the broader life skills our young people require in the 21st century, rather than be historically driven by academe.

Bill Brown,

46 Breadie Drive, Milngavie.

ONE of the major problems besetting education in Scotland is the attainment gap between pupils in affluent and poorer areas. The main perceived solution to this has been to relax university entrance standards for those from the latter. But the problem is now endemic. One contributor to this is the restriction in many state schools of the number of subjects a pupil can take in the senior years. This is clearly determined by shortages of teachers in subjects perceived as being more demanding, particularly the Stem (Science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, those in whose graduates Scotland already has a shortage. None of this will be solved by the cap on the number of Scottish students being admitted to Scottish universities because of the "free" tuition policy.

These issues are part of a jigsaw, in which another piece is the failure to address the attainment gap at primary level, where the building blocks for a child’s development should be established. It now transpires that, after the abolition of the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy in 2017 – which was showing a decline in attainment –the data to provide information about attainment at primary level are now missing.

It is hard to see how these issues will be addressed in more than a cosmetic manner at a time when real-terms spending per pupil has fallen since 2010-11 by £437 for each primary pupil and £266 per secondary pupil.

Jill Stephenson,

Glenlockhart Valley, Edinburgh.