THANK you, Neil Mackay, for saying what has needed to be said for some time (“SNP is gaslighting and endangering our brave teachers”, The Herald, November 19).

The teaching profession is being treated with contempt and used as baby-sitters: to say otherwise is to be disingenuous.

Keeping schools open has got little to do with the educational needs of the children and more to do with keeping parents at work.

The least the government could do is be honest about this.

The government is relying on teachers keeping their mouths shut and carrying on but there is a limit to how long you can push people around before they start biting back.

Perhaps John Swinney should take on the job of a classroom assistant for a week or so and see how safe he feels confined with 30 unmasked children.

He might also get a better understanding of the logistics of running a classroom.

The daily planning when you do not know, because of children having to isolate, who, and how many children will be in the room, must be a nightmare.

How do you ensure continuity and forward movement? How do you do it when you are afraid for your life?

I am so glad I have retired.

The government also needs to remember that teachers vote.

C.I.Aitken, Alloa, Clackmannanshire.

THE incisive article by Neil Mackay on teaching during a pandemic has brought some inconvenient educational truths to the surface.

We seem to be stuck in a world of schooling which has changed little in terms of pupil centred learning ever since schools were greatly empowered through the Education Reform Act (1988).

We still have as system which apparently creates pupils who are largely teacher dependent for their learning.

Efforts to put ‘learning to learn’ in the earlier years as an effective focus has apparently slowed due to low levels of self-motivation and social issue barriers.

Seemingly, the pandemic has revealed that all the talk by education experts, over many decades, of encouraging pupils to take responsibility for their own learning has been, in terms of a meaningful outcome, little more than just that – an encouragement.

Additionally, I feel that the enormous potential for modern technology to allow mainstreamed individualised e-learning has not been fully exploited even before the Covid pandemic, with the result that any effort made to introduce it this year appeared an expediency and a second-string emergency measure.

I suggest that one of the reasons that Covid has hit education so hard has been that schools remain ultra-cautious about adapting and taking risks which might adversely affect their academic results.

The post-pandemic operation of our schools must be planned now from the lessons learned this year.

If society can move towards accepting that many 17- and 18-year-olds who have chosen to remain at school have responsibility for their own form of education, I suggest that the practice of de-schooling for senior students in certain academic subjects at secondary level with regular in-school tutorials and feedback should become more the norm.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

I’M sorry, but I really must complain about two articles in Thursday’s paper.

Neil Mackay is entirely unreasonable about his article on “gaslighting” teachers.

Across Europe, schools are staying open, following scientific evidence that they have not been major centres of transmission of the virus, and also to avoid the worst impacts of the pandemic on children.

It seems to me that it is Mr Mackay who is gaslighting the Scottish government.

Helen McArdle (“Missteps and blunders have led us back into lockdown”) makes it sound as if a Scottish government, with no control of its borders, could have prevented a second wave.

The major strain of the virus, 80 per cent in both Europe and the UK, is now a Spanish variation that has spread across the Continent, initially by holidaymakers, then by commerce in a way Scotland could not have prevented.

While I agree with her comments on greedy universities, does Helen McArdle think we should have kept all High Street businesses closed for the duration?

Scotland has no control over land, sea or air borders, so should we have isolated and quarantined every traveller?

How could we have, without making Scotland/UK into a police state?

I’m afraid these articles are not up to the journalistic standards for balance and analysis we have come to expect from the Herald.

G.R.Weir, Ochiltree.

I AM amazed that Helen McArdle in her article has the blatant nerve to put the blame for the lockdown onto “our own endless cycle of foolishness”, instead of the unbelievable incompetence of the politicians who insist on making short-term policies, not to make life better for the common man, but simply to make sure they get re-elected in five years’ time.

The Westminster Government was warned three times in the last 10 years that an outbreak of disease, and not war, was going to be the next threat.

They have had 10 years to recruit staff for the NHS, stockpile protective clothing, research vaccines, but what did they do?

Sweet Fanny Adams, and yet Helen McArdle has the cheek to blame the ordinary citizen.

The only people who have learned nothing are those in the UK Government who ignored the advice of their own scientists, who have been warning for years what was about to happen.

As President Trump would say, “Lock them up!”

Margaret Forbes, Kilmacolm.