THE real issue with denominational schools is that in a public sector institution which in theory should be accessible to all taxpayers, there is clear evidence of discrimination ("To end sectarianism, we must abolish Catholic schools", The Herald, September 18, and Letters, September 19). In order for the religious ethos of any denominational school to be preserved, senior leadership posts must be ring-fenced for members of that faith, and other posts such as religious education and pastoral care, likewise. In Catholic denominational schools the bishops have the power of veto over appointments which again leads to discrimination favouring Catholics.

The Scottish Government won't touch this particular hot potato because it could cost it votes; the trade unions won't touch it because it will lose them money and power in lost membership, so non-denominational schools are left with burnt hands because of limited job opportunities for many staff simply because they don't subscribe to a particular faith.

This is why we need a unified state education system in Scotland which honours all faiths and none and enables the Government and local authorities to truly proclaim themselves equal opportunity employers.

Barry Stansfield, Glasgow G41.

I HAVE an atheist friend whose daughter attended a Catholic school in Glasgow. She went in a Wiccan and, six years later, came out a Buddhist.

For someone who spends so much time in the realm of the literary imagination, Rosemary Goring is surprisingly one-dimensional and linear in her thinking. It seems to go along these lines: there’s a sectarian problem in Scotland; the minority group (Catholics) have their own schools; they may have been historically justified but these schools are now incubators of sectarianism; close the schools; solve sectarianism.

There’s logic of sort in there. Unfortunately, it’s a logical sequence with no evidence to back it up. Worse still, there’s another sequence in play: in order to rid ourselves of sectarianism, the one substantial social change that needs to be made is to sacrifice one of the two features of our landscape (church buildings being the other) which is explicitly Catholic.

The undoubted consequence of her course of action (unintended, of course) will be to appease the bigots. In fact, they might just organise a few extra marches to celebrate. In the meantime, a successful education system, which enshrines civic and social values, and is open to all, will be sacrificed on a secular altar of ignorance masquerading as enlightened progress.

Alan McGinley, Clydebank.

THE correspondence following Rosemary Goring's article on the relation between sectarianism and Catholic schools does little to justify the continuance of state-funded separate religious education.

Like one correspondent I feel that it is unlikely that it will be removed in the near future, but this subject should always be discussed if only to justify the needless expenditure in these austere times. After all, we have a national curriculum so why teach this in separate places? There is also of course the disputed correlation between separate schools and sectarian violence.

Born to Catholic parents, for irrelevant reasons I spent most of my primary education in a non-denominational school and the rest in Catholic schools.

My recollections of these days are that both had a reasonable and acceptable standard of morals with more time spent in prayer and religious discussion in the Catholic schools. I also recall that other religions could be discussed in freely only in the non-denominational school. Perhaps this is different now in Catholic education.

But what is lacking in Catholic education and is not mentioned by those who wrote in support of separate Catholic schools is that the Catholic church is still lacking in tolerance of gender equality and other gender issues. All pupils should be made aware of the advances in these areas, advances which have been relatively ignored by the Catholic church.

However moral standards (and related discussions including tolerance of others' beliefs ) is a subject which must come primarily from the home.

Tina Oakes, Stonehaven.

I FOUND Peter Kearney’s letter (September 19) on the subject of denominational schools sadly predictable. He seems completely incapable of breaking out of a particular mindset which manifests itself every time someone dares to question the validity of Catholic schools in a public forum. Particularly depressing is his use of emotive, over-the-top language – words such as "tyrannical " and "attack" and “loathe” are hardly conducive to balanced debate.

However, my particular purpose in writing is to take him to task for a comment he made about anti-Catholicism in areas of the country where there is de facto "complete integration". He makes this comment with reference to the Scottish Borders, an area I happen to know well. I was privileged to serve as head teacher of one of the nine Borders secondary schools for almost 15 years. During all of that time, I never once encountered anything that could in any way be described as an anti-Catholic hate crime.

I came to the Borders after more than 20 years working in the non-denominational sector in the West of Scotland and as a Glaswegian born and bred was fully aware of the sectarian tensions that can blight aspects of public life. By way of contrast, all of the children in my own school’s particular catchment area came to us for their secondary education. Whether they were Protestant or Catholic was utterly irrelevant.

Rob Kelly, Bearsden.