IT is about time we were told the true state of affairs in our Scottish education system. To be constantly fobbed of by the Government's ever-optimistic spin on how the system is performing is not good enough.

An independent inquiry should be launched which allows teaching personnel to express, in confidence, without being fearful about damaging their careers, what really concerns them about what is happening within schools.

It is vitally important to establish whether the overcrowding of the curriculum with matters pushing the essential tasks of teaching aside is deflecting teachers from the real task for which they have received intensive training.

There needs to be a serious investigation into the way the exercise of discipline within schools is tying the hands of staff so that they find it difficult to establish a cooperative and coherent group approach to positive learning.

One big worry which does seem to stand out, when in discussion with teachers, is the restriction upon the number of subjects pupils can take to produce a viable group of exam passes to further their career prospects.

Added to that is the pressure upon teachers to have three different levels of courses to be taught at the one time in their classes.

While the Government praises the ingenuity of teachers in managing to cope with such an adverse arrangement and claims that this has been going on for some time successfully, it does not make such arrangements right. Such timetabling disguises teacher shortages, deprives the groups of the full-time teaching which their particular certificate level demands, imposes nervous exhaustion upon the teachers trying to implement such a programme and short-changes pupils with regard to the real number of hours their courses should entail. The statistics about teacher shortage, the number of subjects a pupil can study for certification and the figures for how many classes contain more than one level of students following certificate courses should be made freely available.

Of course, the Government will come out with glowing statements about the wonderful exam results in certificate exams. But we all know just how easy it is to massage such figures to present the results as satisfactory to avoid criticism.

Dilution has been eating away at our reputation for good schooling for some time now.

Secondary teachers are taken aback at how unprepared many primary pupils are for what they have to face in going to high school, while universities also find it necessary to offer remedial courses to bring their students up to the standard once taken for granted by the tertiary institutions and we should not forget the comments of employers who find that many school leavers are just not equipped to deal with the world of work.

From such an inquiry, there would, I believe, emerge a demand for a thorough overhaul of our education system to take it back to what teachers would be realistically expected to achieve on the basis of their training and within what circumstances.

Denis Bruce, Bishopbriggs.