This week the Herald carried an exclusive three-part interview with former SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes.

Speaking to Kevin McKenna, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch spoke about her feeling that Holyrood is failing the Highlands and Islands, her faith, the climate crisis and her party's coalition with the Scottish Greens.

It was her thoughts on education though which caught the eye for our Letter of the Day.

Ms Forbes stated "hard work" was needed along with "aspiration and ambition", stating that a culture had been allowed to develop where "all must have prizes.

Read part one of Kevin McKenna's Kate Forbes interview here, part two here and part three here.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh said:

"How heartening it was to read Kate Forbes’s words about education ('Holyrood is letting down the Highlands, says Forbes', The Herald October 2): "There seems to be a view ‘that you close the educational attainment gap by making it easier for everyone…[that] we need to make education simpler and easier in order to ensure everyone is achieving the same."

The Herald:

Ms Forbes dares to voice heretical views - in the current political environment - that what is needed is "hard work… aspiration and ambition.

For too long there has been a culture of "all must have prizes", with mediocre work being praised so as not to discourage its author, and no-one winning because no-one can be allowed to lose. This is evidence of a complete failure to understand children: they are inherently competitive, they respond to stimulus, and to being stretched. Their pride in achievement won by hard work and determination is a wonderful thing to see. True, they may take knocks when their ambition outstrips their ability, but that is a lesson for life. Being patted on the head and given easier tasks to do is no preparation at all for life.

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Ms Forbes’ words about tradesmen are equally sensible: "The skills and knowledge they have is at a gold standard of excellence." Anyone who has employed a joiner, plumber, tiler, painter, electrician knows how they are experts and, rightly, proud of their expertise, and develops deep respect for them. They do, however, require education at the start - to be able to measure and calculate, to read and comprehend complicated instruction manuals. Lest that be thought too pedestrian, they also learn, through apprenticeship, to be creative and imaginative, bringing clients a further dimension to their original requests.

Ms Forbes’ welcome words on these subjects give me hope that schools may be steered into valuing hard work and achievement once more, and soft-pedalling the priority currently on social issues and identity. My only cavil about her contribution is that I am deeply puzzled by how it can come from someone who also believes in the mumbo-jumbo of Scottish separatism."

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