IN 1973 I was one of 14 sixth-year pupils from Linlithgow Academy who went to Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt or Glasgow universities to become civil engineers, doctors, lawyers and actuaries. Five of us were from council houses and we didn't regard ourselves as "financially hard-pressed" or "disadvantaged" as suggested by your front page article on the latest SNP "levelling down" wheeze to shackle Scotland's private schools ("FM facing calls to end tax breaks for private schools", The Herald, September 1).

When I got to Edinburgh to study Economics and Business Studies I found that the private school kids had more confidence than me but weren't any brighter or better educated. Two of them especially became lifelong friends and visiting their families certainly widened my horizons.

In short, in those days if your parents pushed you on and you responded it was natural to get on in education and life irrespective of your background, and those who didn't make it and left school at 15 left with a good grounding, and opportunities to go to college or learn a trade.

Now it seems our schools are zoos. The headline on today's Daily Record (September 1) was "School staff's terror as violence soars" and I know many parents, traditionally opposed to private education, who are either thinking of sending their kids to private schools or wish they could afford it.

The current situation is a failure of parenting and the past 30 years of dumbing down of public education, a process that accelerated with devolution and spiralled out of control when the SNP took charge. So now some spiteful party hacks from Peterhead and Glasgow want to continue the process of pulling the rest of us down to their level by clamping down on private education. Pathetic.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

• HOW typical of the SNP to blame others for its failures. The private education sector actually educates four per cent of Scotland's children at a high and consistent level in addition to the 5,000 bursaries the sector provides to give talented children from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunities that the state sector cannot provide. The SNP now wants to tax this to oblivion despite the fact that the increased costs would have more children in the already struggling and underperforming state sector.

On top of that, the educational achievement of the entire sector would be reduced as this discredited organisation sets out to bring everyone down, rather than up, to the same level.

The idea that the tax income from from such a misguided adventure would benefit the state sector is naive in the extreme as it would be spent on the likes of spin doctors or consultants that the SNP does not bother to listen to anyway.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

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We must save library services

THE decision to axe Glasgow’s School Library Outreach (SLO) services ("Shock as city council closes ‘essential’ library service for schools and nurseries", The Herald, September 1) will be a devastating blow to pupils and teachers all over the city.

I visited SLO and was really impressed by the wealth of resources it provided and the dedication of the team to provide a quality library service over such a large area.

We should never underestimate the importance of the librarian’s role in developing well-curated collections to inspire children to read and learn. Allowing schools to participate in a fire sale for this wonderful resource is no kind of solution: the collections will no longer be maintained, teachers will not have the time or resource to replace out of date and damaged stock, or set up a system to share between schools.

Exactly the same thing has happened in many other councils across the country and it won’t take long after teachers realise this is gone for the pressure to fall on an already over-stretched and under-resourced public library service.

It is likely that in years to come Glasgow City Council will realise that this service met a real community need, but by that time it will be too late for a whole generation of young people. Why destroy something that is evidently a success and was in fact a beacon of good practice within the Scottish library community, a service which many of us wanted to emulate?

Primary school library provision is woeful in Scotland, and on the back of recent savage cuts to secondary school libraries, it is about time we had a conversation about how libraries make a huge contribution to literacy and creative learning within our schools and the wider community, and be serious about the investment needed to ensure that all children have access to well-resourced libraries and the support of skilled librarians.

Andrew Givan, Paisley.

The Herald: Libraries play a huge role in inspiring children to readLibraries play a huge role in inspiring children to read (Image: PA)

Failings of the guardianship system

LIKE with so much of Scotland’s "progressive" legislation, being appointed guardians to my disabled son might sound empowering, but the process was anything but. It remains to be seen whether this appointment will lead to professionals and policymakers actually listening. It would be a first and I am not confident it will.

My wife and I have always been, and will always be the main guardians, carers and advocates for our son: a 17-year-old non-verbal man with severe autism and learning disability. That the state insists on changing his status at 16 makes no difference whatsoever to his circumstances, support and the round the clock care we struggle to provide. In fact, our local authority has used the ridiculous amount of time taken to process the application to hold back vital support, through an extremely questionable interpretation of yet another contemporary care act.

For us guardianship has not been something we have been involved in, but rather something that has been bestowed upon us by self-important individuals who are paid handsomely for their trouble, while as the actual guardians and carers we are expected to doff our caps in thanks.

From the 20-minute Zoom psychiatric assessment, to the social work report that took so long it had to be resubmitted (and contained another client’s name due to being cut and pasted), to the same local authority which claimed we could not receive agreed support till guardianship was awarded, the disinterested Legal Aid solicitor, finally to the Sheriff who wouldn’t let us speak in court, the experience has been anything but empowering or person-centred. It makes you wonder just who the process is actually for? My son has no voice, and nobody wants to listen.

If we want to be a society that promotes social justice it has to be present in our lived experience, not meaningless processes lacking in compassion or meaning.

Duncan F MacGillivray, Dunoon.

Humza Yousaf is a listener

JANE Lax (Letters, August 31), writing in the context of Scotland’s relationship with alcohol and the tragic deaths associated with it, suggests that all the SNP Government at Holyrood is looking for is cheap headlines, thereby belittling not only the seriousness of the situation, but also those affected and those who are working day in, day out on the problem.

The Scottish Government has set aside substantial sums of public money to tackle alcohol and drug addiction. One of the main calls from the Scottish Government regarding drugs policy (controlled by Westminster) is for safe consumption rooms and just this week a cross-party Westminster committee has recommended that a pilot for Scotland should be trialled and devolving drugs policy to Holyrood should be considered ("MPS back ‘safe room’ pilot for drug reform in Glasgow", The Herald, August 31). It also called for the 50-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act be reviewed with urgency.

Ms Lax suggests that our First Minister always knows best; nothing could be further from the truth. Humza Yousaf has a listening ear and would always take into consideration expert advice and words from those who have had first-hand experience in whichever field we are examining. But for Scotland to get policy correct when we have limited powers is often difficult, and Mr Yousaf would be the first to admit that.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.

Read more: We must not abandon the blameless poor people of India

NHS done down by bureaucracy

I AGREE with all that Peter Dryburgh (Letters, August 28) says about the cult of management and I add the following. The first duty of a bureaucracy is to itself, seeking to ensure its survival. I was a NHS consultant, active (but now retired, thankfully) as management waxed, including a large cohort of over-promoted nurses, many of whom were and are medical school rejects with chips on shoulders. When I heard of the Lucy Letby affair, my first thought was "the nursing hierarchy have protected her".

High management salaries were not earned but were badges of rank: "We are in charge of you". I recall meetings held without minutes; subsequently impossible to discover who had been present and who had said what. For that and other reasons the morale of de facto-demoted senior doctors slumped and has never recovered. Do contemplate the substantial and rising number of consultant vacancies, premature resignations and the consequences thereof. Lest anyone say that the position in England is worse, that is not so.

Dr William Durward, Bearsden.

Birds of a feather

I NOTE your feature addressing the centenary of the Mitchell Library in 1978 ("Remember when ... The Mitchell Library celebrated its centenary", The Herald, August 31). It was reported that at that time the most valuable book in the library was Birds of America by John James Audubon, now estimated to be worth some £1.3 million.

In that regard the Mitchell, within which I spent hours as a student many years ago, is in the same fortunate position as Paisley Museum, to which a set was donated by Sir Peter Coats upon the opening of the Free Library and Museum in Paisley in 1871. The Audubon (Birds of America) is a complete collection of books (four volumes together to a set) on the wide range of birds in America. It is believed that 200 or so sets were originally produced and that some 135 sets continue to exist.

There is another Paisley connection with Audubon. Alexander Wilson, who was born in Paisley in 1766, emigrated to America in 1794. He produced many volumes of his work, entitled American Ornithology. Wilson influenced Audubon with regard to the latter’s own work on birds and provided inspiration to other artists and ornithologists. Wilson’s Paisley origins and his standing as an ornithologist and poet were recognised with the erection of a statue in the grounds of Paisley Abbey.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.

Glasgow should copy the colonies

JOHN A Taylor (Letters, September 1) asks what happened to Glasgow Airport. I believe the answer is Holyrood happened. Prior to that Glasgow Airport had greater passenger numbers using it than Edinburgh Airport. Is it mere coincidence that that situation gradually reversed following the opening of Holyrood with airlines choosing to serve Edinburgh rather than Glasgow?

If I am wrong and the reason is due to increasing numbers of tourists preferring the range of attractions Edinburgh has to offer, then it is time for Glasgow to copy the colonies and demand the return of its relics, starting with the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop.