Letters to the editor – week 22


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Not fair on Scottish pupils

The inexorable slide towards depriving Scottish pupils of the opportunity to have their academic achievements properly recognised continues apace.

How is it unfolding? Objective, secure and fair exams were scrapped this year unnecessarily. The complaint now, from the same people who wanted exams scrapped, is that the alternative assessments are not objective, secure and fair.

And it is now claimed sitting any sort of tests or exams is too stressful for the current generation of young people.

It is also argued the poverty-related attainment gap will only be closed by ditching objective assessment and letting the sympathetic and compassionate teachers make up the grades instead.

By the SNP’s ‘logic’, this case is unanswerable, therefore, exams will be abolished.  Thereby the credibility of Scottish qualifications will be willingly sacrificed to the twin gods of Scottish education: ‘Equality’ and ‘Wellbeing’.

In the absence of objective measurements of attainment, Scotland’s education can again be declared to be ‘world-leading’.

There is a surefire method of predicting the decisions of the Scottish Parliament: look at what the Greens were saying a couple of years ago and that’s what they’ll all be saying very soon.  Never fails. The Greens want exams to be scrapped.

Richard Lucas, Leader of the Scottish Family Party, Glasgow.

Easily broken promises

Alok Sharma, the UK government’s president-designate of COP26, said the 197 countries coming to Glasgow would make ‘a consistent and concerted effort’ in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius.

If he had done his homework he would have discovered that the promises – note the word promises – made in Paris in 2015 puts the world on track for a two to three degree rise in warming. If he had done his homework, he would have realised that only five countries have legally-binding climate change acts. The others only made easily-broken promises.

He wants countries to abandon coal. If he had done his homework he would have realised China and India are still building coal-fired power plants. In 2020 China built over three times as much coal plant capacity as the rest of the world. The Chinese President Xi Jinping, aged 68, recently announced China would be carbon neutral by 2060 but he will not be around at COP65 to explain why China was not carbon neutral.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

Get back to engineering

In the wake of other problems, we hear of vandalism in Stornoway, an ongoing thing it seems, and problems with football fans.

Now would be a good time for Scotland to get people back into engineering and other skills that we once were renowned for, especially shipbuilding and worldwide missionary work.

Both skills would be useful in our present situation, engineers to build urgently-needed ferries and missionary work if what I see out there is anything to go by.

Or are we happy to keep being the drink and drug capital of Europe? All that’s needed for evil to survive is for good peoople to do nothing. That, unfortunately, is our present position in life but we could surely do much better again if the will and above skills were nurtured and acted upon.

Aonghas Eoghainn Mhoir, Uibhist a Deas.

Just get on with it

I have been reading a lot of reports and letters in national and local newspapers about the problems experienced at the Rest and Be Thankful on the A83.

I have no doubt that those charged with keeping the trunk road operational and safe for road users are doing their best in the circumstances. However, there now seems to be an acceptance in Transport Scotland that a new solution to the problems has to be found.

The 20 mile route from Strathlachlan to Colintraive and the eight miles between Ormidale and Tighnabruaich were designed and constructed in 12 or 13 years. I was a member of the survey and design team on these routes. I was also heavily involved in the construction of 100 miles of the A9 between Perth and Inverness in 10 years. These civil engineering schemes demonstrate what can be achieved when there is real political will and commitment to give priority to projects.

I realise Transport Scotland has its own procedures for appointing consultants for the design processes and there are detailed environmental impact assessments to be done. However, it does seem its programming of the Rest and Be Thankful improvement is completely lacking in ambition.

As a former Director of Roads and Transport in Highland, I would say that if there are no geological features found on the other side of the glen which will cause a repeat of current problems, the construction of a new road in diversion would cause less disruption to traffic than trying to form landslip shelters or tunnels adjacent to the existing carriageway.

The main thing though is for Transport Scotland and its political masters to just get on with it.

Philip Shimmin, Inverness.