WHEN are the teaching unions going to come out and support the Scottish Government on trying to raise educational standards in our schools, and put an end to Willie Rennie and his cohorts spreading this nonsense that testing for five-year-olds is not only wrong but unnecessary?

I am pleased that the Government has introduced early learning, for that is educational in itself – pre-school, preparing children for school. However, if a child, when they finally start primary, does not grasp the basics of reading and writing, their peers will run off and leave them behind, and if this is not picked up at five then they may switch off altogether and leave school with a reading and writing age of a six or seven-year-old. This will handicap that child all the way into adulthood, they will have difficulty finding a job, not being able to write a letter, fill out a form or have any real confidence when it comes to interviews.

Low wage, zero-hour contract jobs are unlikely to give financial stability and a good start for their family too. If this sounds like pure soap then that shows how little you understand about the subject.

On STV News a young mother said her son was so upset over having to take a test that she refused to let him take the test, instead of assuring him that it did not matter how good or bad he did on the test because no one is going to chastise you. Who knows, you may be surprised at how well you do, it is no big deal. This is why Willie Rennie needs to be stopped. That small child may need extra help but will slip through the net, and whose fault will it be? Willie Rennie is trying to further his own career by simply bleating SNP bad, he is playing politics at the expense of our children’s education.

Come on BBC and mainstream media, don’t simply read out a Willie Rennie press release, find out the facts.
Walter Hamilton
St Andrews

ISN’T there so much that is relevant omitted from Graeme Eddie’s long letter (August 2) about the very real concern around the latest of “Israel’s Basic Laws” which clearly serve to place its political sword in the sand and issue a challenge to all those who oppose what it is doing, and has done, in defence of its nationhood?

It’s now 70 years since the formation of the Israeli State. That’s 70 years where it has had every opportunity to seek a peaceful solution to the Palestinians’ plight. And 70 years for the rest of the world to suffer from its intransigent failure through protracted abuse of the Palestinians, and the Middle East conflicts between Israel and Palestinians, Lebanon, attributable associated terrorism and the conflicts that emanated from all of this in Iran, Iraq and Syria, all of which served as a recruiting ground for the rise of the scourge of Daesh; and still no lesson learned.

What disappoints me is that even after the suffering of the Jewish people from pogroms throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, the abuse of the 1930s in Germany and the ultimate appalling horror of the Holocaust, the Israeli State appears to have learned little about seeking accommodation and living in peace with other peoples, particularly those around them.

Rather than work diligently to seek accommodation with the Palestinians hasn’t Israel’s history proved a belligerence born of the flawed policy to place land buffer zones between it and its “enemies”, no matter at whose expense, when living in peace and harmony would certainly have worked better?

Hence the Six-Day War with Egypt where it annexed vast areas including Sinai. Hence the provocative deliberate settlement of the West Bank, and its annexation. Hence the internationally sanctioned herding of Palestinians into the Gaza Strip and its outrageous blockade of it leading to the dehumanisation and plight of this dispossessed people.

Let’s be clear, Israel survives as a nation because it is the focal point of influence in the Middle East for the Western powers, principally the US, which has tempered opposition from the Arab world through its power.

But hasn’t the price paid been perpetual unrest which has caused wars, terrorism and now encouraged the unsustainable mass migration of refugees to Europe?

The latest “Basic Laws” suggest nothing is intended to change. Israeli policy is fixed, at least for as long as Israel has the patronage of Western powers exercising their own interests at the expense of the Palestinians, bolstered by the international definition of anti-Semitism that improperly conflates Jews and the Jewish religion with the interests and actions of the Israeli State.

Isn’t Jeremy Corbyn’s weakness that he is now realising his support for the Palestinians as a backbencher becomes less tenable when the party depends on the votes of those who are pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian to gain power, and him not having the courage to articulate in leadership his own and vast tracts of his party’s views frankly and publicly from a position of principle?

Hasn’t Israel been allowed to operate for 70 years without boundaries? Isn’t it time for it to learn to live in peace with its neighbours?

Or is peace in the Middle East just a pipedream?
Jim Taylor