I HAVE to disagree with Jill Stephenson (Letters, May 7) when she says that Kate Forbes would be the right Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills for Scotland.

Her suggestion that Ms Forbes has “sensible things to say about pupils needing to learn that hard work and perseverance are the answer” is recognised by many as a dated myth which was started by oppressive right-wing religions and fuelled by the attitude of employers during the Industrial Revolution. We should not be breeding wage slaves in our schools but creative, confident and inquiring individuals.

We should be promoting learning for young people as a pleasurable experience rather than a drudge. School years in Scotland should be a joy of realising one's self-worth which instead are clouded by ferocious over-assessment and unhelpful judgmentalism.

Embracing the philosophy that there is an “ answer” to success in school requires consideration regarding what is the effect of not finding the “answer”. No young person should leave their secondary school under the impression that their stature as an emerging adult has been permanently established by their performance in exams.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

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Boost dentists' NHS earnings

NHS dentistry was established in 1948. Much has changed since then in what the public wants, what techniques are available and who is there to provide the service ("Warning as NHS dentistry recruitment ‘in deep crisis’", The Herald, May 6, and Letters, May 7).

When I matriculated in Glasgow University in 1968 to study dentistry the first clinical skill I was taught was making complete dentures as that was a major element of the service the public needed; it isn't now. General practice at the time revolved round amalgam fillings, extractions, dentures and the odd root treatment. Things have changed markedly since then, treatments have become more varied, more complex and generally more expensive. The general public currently expects greater sophistication and variety in the treatments available from NHS dentistry than it did in 1948.

In 1973, of the 41of us who graduated BDS from Glasgow University only seven were female; currently the majority of dental graduates from the same institution are female. In no way am I questioning the contribution made by female dentists to the profession but having been married at one time to a dentist while we raised a family and having had female colleagues of a reproductive age, to me it is obvious that the increase in the number of female dentists has inevitably led to a reduction in the number of dentist-hours available to provide treatments in both the NHS and the private sector. It has also increased the number of dentists who choose for various reasons to work part-time, which again is easier to accomplish in group practices and in the corporate sector where one can turn up, do a session and not have to worry about running a business.

We live in a society where wealth is becoming increasingly unevenly distributed and where the problem of access to dental treatment has no impact on those higher up the social pyramid. The solution to the availability of dental treatment for those with limited funds is not simple but we need to ensure that treating NHS patients is sufficiently remunerative for NHS practices to thrive even if it means reviewing the types of treatment that the NHS is willing to provide. I would like a Ferrari but can only afford a Corsa, maybe that’s the answer for NHS dentistry; either that or tax the rich.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.

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Let GPs do triage from home

SINCE retirement from 30 years' full-time GP partnership in 2002, which included out-of-hours cover every third night and weekend, also on alternate nights and weekends 12 weeks per year during partners' holidays, I have watched the predictable consequences of the roll-out of the 2004 GP contract. I completely agree with Dr Stefan Slater's analysis (Letters, May 6) and admire his courage in publicising his views on the cause and a solution to the current NHS out of hours crisis.

Understandably this is not a solution that GPs will relish in 2024, or likely agree to, even with a financial incentive. I wonder if a working compromise, appropriately financed, insisting that all GP practices triage their own out-of-hours calls on a partner rota basis would help stem the "flood tide" in A&E? This could be done by telephone or online, with GPs having access to their patients' medical history from home as required, and thus patients' anxiety ameliorated by speaking to a familiar GP fully conversant with their medical history. Patients could then be appropriately referred to A & E, if necessary by ambulance, or told to attend the surgery the next day like "family practice" of old.

Could such a suggestion even be trialled or is it too late?

Jon Cossar, Edinburgh.

We should go for new-style prefabs

SIR Tom Hunter touts his pal Lord Haughey as the solution to housing shortages, but has he ever built any houses ("Hunter calls on new FM to address housing emergency", The Herald, May 6)?I was born in a prefab in Auchinleck and my wife’s aunt Aggie lived all her married life in the last prefab in Sir Tom's home town of New Cumnock.

If there is a desperate requirement for new house construction, then we should go for modern-style prefabricated housing to meet the shortfall. Instead of wealthy wannabe landlords like Lord Haughey, we should be looking at modular and kit house construction as a short-term solution.

GR Weir, Ochiltree.

The Herald: Did Robert Burns inspire Friedrich Schiller?Did Robert Burns inspire Friedrich Schiller? (Image: Getty)

Did Schiller take from Burns?

DID Friedrich Schiller plagiarise Burns? In John Suchet's Classic FM broadcast celebrating the 200th anniversary on May 7 of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, he mentioned that in 1803 Schiller had changed the previous words in his Ode to Joy to "Alle Menschen werden Bruder" (all men will become brothers), now renowned in the glorious final movement of that symphony.

As Robert Burns had written his great poem "A Man's a Man for a' that" in 1795, ending with "That man to man the world o'er, shall brithers be for a' that", it is surely possible that Schiller had read and was possibly an admirer of Scotland's national poet.

John Birkett, St Andrews.