IT must be disquieting if not indeed discouraging, for any young persons who are soon to leave university and consider teaching as a career to read Saturday's front page headline (“Teachers at breaking point as nearly half seek medical help”, The Herald, May 11) .

I expect that many people in the education sector will cite the potential cause as the pressure to increase examination performance, maintaining the professional standards as set out by the Scottish General Teaching Council (SGTC), and compliance with a host of other boxes to be ticked.

However, I also suspect that what we are seeing is in fact the eventual legacy of poorly thought-through decisions made in the early 1990s. The hasty abolition of our colleges of education – commonly referred to at the time as teacher training colleges – where student teachers could spend up to four years being specifically trained in primary or secondary subject teaching was, in my view, the start of de-professionalising teaching. Instead, there was to be one option only, anyone who held a university degree could now do a few months' further study with time out in schools to be able to start a probationary period as a qualified teacher.

It is little wonder that many under-trained staff of today are breaking up and morale seems low. In November 2017 the Scottish Government published a report entitled “Gathering views on probationer teachers’ readiness to teach”. I took the view that the statistics included in the report were both enlightening and frightening and yet both the Scottish Government and the SGTC have continued to persevere with a dysfunctional post-graduate model only, regarding preparation for the classroom.

Our pupils deserve to be taught by the equivalent of crack troops who are ready for anything; instead of which we appear to be sending out people poorly prepared for pressure and under-equipped to meet the very demanding challenges of front-line service.

Bill Brown,


WHEN nearly half our teachers are at breaking point, our educational system is broken. They seek medical help because of overwork, indiscipline, violence and bullying from management. How can it make sense to be independent when the SNP has failed so signally? It does not have a clue. The only argument for independence is that we can do it better by ourselves. No we cannot. Our SNP government has been in power for 12 years and it has turned our education system, once the envy of the world, into a disaster.

We need to have enough teachers, who are paid well and valued. They are the providers. Fail them and they are broken. You cannot bully someone into inspiring children to learn. You must help them to be able to inspire learning. That takes inspiration, leadership, not bullying. Indiscipline and violence have to be stamped out, must never be an issue. Whatever it is you do, it must work. And if it means excluding some pupils, so be it. At least the rest can be taught.

Constantly changing courses, presenting teachers will fresh challenges to teach is anathema. Teachers do not have time to learn when they are teaching the next day. They have to be prepared properly so that they do not need to spend hours every night swotting up lessons. When do they get time to have a life? Filling up forms should be done by others.

There was a time when it was a pleasure to teach. I remember the excitement of it every day. I loved it. Many did. Clearly, it has become a nightmare. That is a fault of government. The morale of the teacher is the first necessity of a good education. Teachers needs to know what they are doing, it must make sense and that every form of support is behind them in the most compassionate form. That has always been a problem. Managers need to know a lot about their staff. Principal teachers are essential: they have experience and can judge what needs to be said and done to help. Care for the staff and they will inspire the pupils.

William Scott,