MUCH blame is heaped on government and schools with regard to children’s

attainment. Many people overlook the fact that parents are the primary educators of their children.

A readiness for what follows at nursery and school depends on whether children have been talked to, played with and read to. The parks and libraries are free. Young children absorb their surroundings from birth. The foundations laid down at this time are essential. Pity any child whose parent spends more time perusing their mobile phone than talking to the child. The initial assessment of children when they start school can highlight shortcomings in the children’s early years, providing teachers with a basis for learning.
Margaret Pennycook

IN her first speech as Prime Minister to the Tory party conference in 2016, Theresa May said she aimed to rebrand the Conservatives as “the workers’ party”. This claim was ludicrous and I believe it’s got as much credibility as me saying I fly to work each day on a magical unicorn.

I work an average of 56 hours per week in the construction industry. I woke up one Sunday morning and had double vision. Totally out of the blue with no other symptoms and it’s still unexplained – It has left the NHS baffled. I was off work that week while I attended various appointments and had an MRI scan. I couldn’t drive, which meant there was no way I could attend my work considering that I also drive for 10 hours a day at my work.

I submitted a self-certified sick note for the week, as you’re required to do for the first sick week, and I recently received my payslip ... a whole week’s sick pay of £36.82 ... how generous of the UK Tory government. You apparently aren’t paid anything for the first three days you’re sick so I guess workers and the family members they support don’t need any money or to eat for the first three days.

I’m now wondering if David Mundell would be willing to help me out that week by selling the £528 Olympus cameras he claimed on expenses. Maybe David Davies could sell his £475 Laura Ashley cabinet or David Jones could sub me by selling his £356 ivory curtains, that’s if they still have those items. I believe there is probably more chance of me borrowing Mundell’s camera to photograph a flying pig.

It’s unfortunate that the £36.82 sick pay won’t cover the costs for me to get to Westminster, where they have chucked away nearly 1,000 tonnes of food in just five years. I might have been able to borrow and then fill the £2.99 dog bowl that the former Tory justice minister Sir Mike Penning claimed – I doubt it though, because he repaid that so technically it’s not the taxpayer’s bowl anymore.

Considering it costs me £50 a week in fuel to get to my work and back home again, I’m left with difficult decisions as I should probably keep this £36 for fuel so that I can get back to work and get my normal wage. It’s still short £14, but it’s okay as it will only take me nine hours and 50 minutes to walk to work or two hours 36 minutes to get there if Boris Johnson wants to hire me a bicycle.
East Ayrshire

I DIDN’T watch Question Time from Dewsbury. You watch the show a few times and it doesn’t really matter where it is broadcast from. It preaches to the converted and surely has the same stage-management team as Gordon Brown except that Mr Dimbleby sits and Mr B strides back and forth like a wild animal kept against its will in a cage. The only difference is that Mr D doesn’t need taming, as he’s tamer than your average cuddly pussy cat.

As for Question Time, Mr D etc, these are simply examples of the BBC which is everything that Russia Today is accused of and isn’t.

Family dynasties and cliques are a feature of British television, though no part of it as much as the BBC, and given the presence of so many straight upper lips there has to be a considerable public school representation among its reporters and presenters. Almost in the fashion of a production line.

News programmes mainly reflect this. A feature of sports programmes is that the name England gets mentioned much more than the other UK countries and in the routine round-up of what is on the pages of the daily newspapers only the London-based papers are used.

No National, no Herald, no Scotsman, no Courier, no Press and Journal, no Belfast Telegraph, no Cardiff Times or Swansea Herald of Wales. That’s simply how it is, that’s impartiality BBC style.
Ian Johnstone

FURTHER to your story of the great difficulties Russel and Eileen Felber had in obtaining visas from the Home Office to live in the UK, as many others have also experienced (Widespread joy as attempt to deport US couple finally dropped, September 18), I wonder if Meghan Markle had the same problems getting hers?
Robert Cumberland