CATRIONA Stewart seems to me to have encapsulated in one article all the worst aspects of “put-down” attitudes in Glasgow short of saying “ he’s nae use - ah kent his faither” (‘Will Glasgow’s iPad scheme raise attainment? iRight’, The Herald, August 30).

She seems to have focused entirely on the rather obvious management challenges the scheme will have in a practical sense.

I view young people today as being largely so used to the way electronic information is accessed and processed by them that book-based passive learning can often be a barrier to understanding.

Although she rightly cites the fiasco in Los Angeles when the authorities attempted something similar, I believe that the issue there was mainly deficiencies regarding the software on the iPads.

I am convinced that it is the software on the devices which holds the key to the success of the scheme.

Used effectively, the iPad becomes a portable teaching machine which, with the appropriate software, allows pupils to interact with a graded series of actions at their own individual speed and progress is controlled by constant diagnostic testing steps.

This ensures that learning has been successful at each stage. Programmed learning has been developing throughout the last century in various forms and has been used in the armed forces for many years. Electronics has simply taken the whole idea to a new level.

If designed carefully, such programmed learning self-regulates to meet the needs of the individual and can be a huge advantage to those young people off whom ‘talk and chalk’ merely bounces.

Catriona concludes by saying that she will be interested in seeing what answers the Glasgow iPad scheme provides, as indeed many of us will. However I feel she firstly should ask herself - ‘do we really understand the questions?’

Bill Brown,


CATRIONA Stewart in her article raises some interesting points in her article about the iPad, specifically about young people’s excessive use of digital products.

Like many people I do worry about our youngsters seemingly spending every waking hour staring at their phones and other devices.

It will be the case, as Ms Stewart argues, that parents will find it harder to control their children’s use of council-issued iPads than would be the case with their own phones.

It has been recently been reported that nursery teachers have concerns about many of their young charges. The more these young children become hooked on iPads, the less creative they become, the less inclined they are to indulge in pretend play.

It is easy to overlook the importance of such play, but it does allow children to develop in all sorts of ways that iPads do not.

What confuses the issue however is that the future will undoubtedly become digital, and that pupils who have been issued with iPads are being geared towards such a future.

But I cannot help thinking that desk-top computers would be a much wiser investment in Glasgow schools rather than portable devices that aim merely to entertain.

L McGovern,


AS someone who has long retired, and for whom schooldays are but a thing of remote memory, can I just say how much I envy today’s pupils and their rich helpings of digital devices?

M Towers, Glasgow

The problems of P1 testing

IN response to your story on Primary one tests (‘Teachers brand P1 school tests “meaningless” and “a waste of time”, The Herald, August 30): does Mr Swinney have any idea of the range of developmental ages in a typical primary one class?

It is impossible to devise a class test which can assess if an individual is performing at the desired level for their “age”. Furthermore, it can have undesirable, long-lasting consequences.

A child who sees other children finding the tests easier than they do, is apt to assume they themselves are not going to be any good at learning. Any teacher of whatever stage will tell you this is the hardest nut to crack. It leads to inattention or disruption or disinterest – anything to conceal their supposed inability.

It`s a tragedy, as it is so difficult to break through this harsh self-assessment, and it can persist for years. Why not trust your teachers, who know the children and work with them five days a week, to use their skills and experience to assess progress? It’s a lot more likely to be accurate then any tick-box mentality method, and a great deal less damaging.

Ann Walsh, Glasgow