KEIR Bloomer, the chair of the commission on school reform, has a real cheek when he says that “problems must be recognised to improve future exam pass tests” ("Exam pass rate ‘a worry’ says education expert", The Herald, August 9).

Mr Bloomer must carry a large part of the responsibility for this happening in the first place. His drive towards Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), particularly in secondary schools, about which most teachers were at the very least extremely sceptical, along with the recommendation to cram the two years required for National Qualifications into one year and his insistence in allowing all secondaries to dictate the number of courses their students should be allowed to take (down in some places from 8/9 to 5/6) has led ultimately to a decline in the Higher pass rate. Intelligent people like Carole Ford (former president, School Leaders Scotland) and others had pointed out right from its induction, way back at the start of this decade, that the whole concept of CfE was going to lead to falling standards. The SQA, which had been masking the problems with the drop in competency of the students over the last five to six years, eventually ran out of excuses and had to let the true standards show through.

Don’t blame the students. Don’t blame the teachers. The entire blame lies with the so-called educational gurus whose theoretical ideas of what was best for the children has led to this debacle. Until John Swinney and the Scottish Government admit they might “just have got it wrong”, and start listening to teachers, things are not going to improve.

Tom Strang, Formerly principal teacher of maths, Barrhead.

Firhill for friends

THE real joy of football (in addition to my team winning) was in evidence on Friday evening when I went to Firhill Stadium in Glasgow with friends.

Before kick-off, we enjoyed a beer in the Woodside Inn in Maryhill Road where fans of both Partick Thistle and Dundee United mingled happily and left for the game wishing each other good luck but hoping, obviously, their side would triumph.

At the end of the match, we left the Main Stand, which was allocated to visiting supporters, and a really cheery steward said we were more than welcome to go into the Thistle Club for a beer, and we did. We weren’t the only United fans stopping off for a pint and, once again, the chat with Thistle fans was good natured and funny.

To me, this is football at its very best. No hassle and no intimidation, just a love of the game enjoyed by people backing their respective teams, but also respecting one another.

Many thanks to the Thistle fans for their part in what was a great night out. I hope their team does well during the rest of the season, except when playing United, that is.

Mike Ritchie, Glasgow G41.

Testing times

IN light of the disorder on both sides of the Atlantic should politicians seeking high office be medically assessed as is the case with high-value footballers pending transfer and the regular examination of airline pilots and other workers where public safety is involved? Things to look for would be brass necks, forked tongues and the inability to distinguish their rump from the large hinge joint in their upper limbs.

R Russell Smith, Kilbirnie.