IN response to John Young’s comment (Website comments, The National, May 22) it would seem that he hasn’t grasped the import of what I said, which was that a blended approach to learning may have to be in place until a vaccine is found. Such an approach is a mixture of in-school learning for pupils and some remote learning.

READ MORE: 'Blended learning' could become the new normal when schools return

For his further elucidation, teachers are working at the moment, either in the hubs or through supporting remote learning; they will returning to school buildings in August, not to work.

Larry Flanagan
General Secretary
The Educational Institute of Scotland

ALEX Orr (Letters, May 21) writes a fitting tribute to the heroism and bravery of the 51st Highland Division, captured at St Valery-en-Caux in June 1940. However, his letter fails to deal adequately with Churchill’s role in the sacrifice of the division for reasons of political expediency. He is right when he says that the incident was largely hushed up, but the detail is vividly described in the book by historian Saul David, After Dunkirk – Churchill’s Sacrifice Of The Highland Division.

Retained under the command of the French third army at a time when French morale was collapsing by the British War Cabinet, by now under Winston Churchill, they fought bravely for 10 days, denting the legend for mayhem and invincibility of the German Blitzkrieg, until they were forced to surrender on June 12, 1940.

READ MORE: Call to remember 51st Highland Division and ‘forgotten Dunkirk’

In his version of the history, Churchill attributed the capitulation to the “ gross mismanagement” of the French. He wrote he was “vexed” that the French had not allowed the division to retire on Rouen in good time. So there we have it, a genuinely inspirational war-time leader and the master of flowing rhetoric and oratory, reduced to understatement for probably the only time in his career.

However, contrary to Churchill’s history, a large share of the responsibility for the disaster should be borne by him, the British Government and High Command, who allowed the 51st to remain under French command despite many warnings from the senior British General in France that it was in grave danger.

By 8 June, General Marshall-Cornwall was so concerned that he suggested that the division be allowed to act independently. Churchill refused to listen to his advice, concerned that the French would breach the agreement not to seek an armistice with the Germans. As events unfolded, his strategy was to prove futile and as historian Saul David records, the 51st were sacrificed for nothing.

Eventually a rescue attempt was agreed, but as Admiral Sir William James records in his message to the Admiralty regarding the attempted evacuation, by the time-definite orders were given it was too late. By June 10/11 the Germans had batteries and machine guns in place above St Valery and the last day that an evacuation from there could have been effectively mounted was June 9. The prevarication of both the British and French command was deplorable, but the bravery of the Royal Navy is not in doubt and some 4300 British and 900 French soldiers were rescued from Veules-les-Roses and Le Havre by them and some civilian vessels.

The 51st Highland Division was reformed and went on to perform with distinction for the remainder of the war. On September 2, 1944, the reformed 51st (Highland) Division liberated St Valery. They and their sacrifice were forgotten in more ways than one. It’s right that their memory should be honoured.
Gill Turner

I REFER to the article by Jamie Cooke and Professor Mike Danson, (Basic income could be emancipatory for Scots, The National, May 19). He finishes by telling us “we should not lose the chance for radical change because we were worried about what Richard Branson thinks”.

May I remind him that Richard Branson is the sort of businessman who sues the NHS if he loses a contract with them. Suppose therefore his thoughts on the matter might be, “Well, if the Government is paying them, I can use that as a subsidy in order to pay them lower wages and thereby maximise my profit margin.” Suppose he is only one of many businessmen who look to increase their profits in this way. What do we do then? Is it right that business people can use this form of universal income as a means to reduce wages and increase their profits?

I have already written to The National about what I believe to be abuse of the “Apprentice System” that is paid for by the Government and have highlighted an instance where I understand that the use of apprentices does not lead to a firm job but merely to redundancy and their replacement in the form of another “apprentice”.

This is, in fact, used as a means to have their wage bill subsidised by the Government and nothing else. Is there not the strong possibility that a UBI could suffer the same fate? Will there be any built-in safeguards to ensure that doesn’t happen? Is it not likely that this system could be abused, instead of directly abusing workers through Zero-hour Contracts?

While I think it would be a very good idea to protect people on lower incomes, I would be wary of introducing such a system without protections in place to protect it from abuse by employers.
Charlie Kerr