SO now we have Alex Neil weighing in with his signature heavy hand to the debate about getting schools up and running again, asserting that so-called blended learning is “completely unacceptable”. The trouble is that he has scant grasp of the difficulties involved.

If you’re going to socially distance the pupils you’re going to have to at least halve class sizes. So if you want them all in there at once you’re going to have to double the number of classrooms. That’s going to be hard, though in at least some cases possible with the use of public buildings, hostels, hotels and so on. Next you’re going to have to transport all the materials and equipment required for teaching the students. That’s a huge logistical problem, though again technically possible.

READ MORE: John Swinney urged by SNP backbenchers to turn empty buildings into classrooms

Then we come to the brick wall: you’re going to have to double the number of teachers. Now that is simply impossible. Bring in retired teachers, we’re told. Being one of those myself I can assure you that wild horses would have no chance of getting me anywhere near a classroom. And I’m confident that would also go for the vast majority of my contemporaries. If nothing else, you don’t have to be long out of the classroom for the curriculum to have morphed out of all recognition. That is an impossible situation to be plunged into.

Bring in the student teachers, we’re told. Fine. Even if every last one of them is prepared to wade in, you’re still going to be many thousands short of the numbers required.

So where do you go from there? Well, full-time education for all students is, put simply, impossible, unless of course the virus has been eliminated by August 11, which is frankly most unlikely.

So Mr Neil’s “absolutely unacceptable” blended learning is, sadly, inevitable. But even there there are serious problems. If teachers are actively teaching classes, albeit smaller ones, full-time, where is the manpower needed to prepare, mark and feed back on home-based work going to come from?

So yes, there are real problems with planning how we deal with education come August. Mr Neil sounding off about how unacceptable it all is completely unhelpful.

Maybe if he were to commit some of his energy to actually thinking about it, he might be of some help to his colleagues in solving the problem.

Ken Gilmour

IF ever there was a moving feast, the plan for return to school amidst the pandemic must be on the menu. Who knows where we’ll be by August 11, but you can be sure that with our First Minister’s cautious approach, we’ll be as near to controlling the virus as possible while allowing our youngsters the best possible opportunity to return to normal schooling. Shame on the opposition parties, past FM McConnell, other critics and the Unionist media that they can’t wait to bin the feast before it’s on the table.

Tom Gray

JIM Taylor (Letters, June 21) believes we’ve now reached a stage when the public can now be trusted to faithfully adhere to the regulations and guidance for living with the coronavirus pandemic. Clearly his optimism is based on his experience of public behaviour in a very different part of Edinburgh from me. Mr Taylor asks if we are “all yearning to get back to life and herald the lifting of emergency powers”. Well amen to that.

Douglas Turner

WHILE I accept that the task of compiling a team such as The National’s Premier XI is, when it comes down to it, a matter of personal opinion, I have to say I was amazed at some of your number one player selections and totally gobsmacked by your number one choice for manager.

The greatest part of Ferguson’s success came in England, where he had resources far outstripping any manager in Scotland. (If success down south is so important, why not have Kenny Dalglish as a striker?)

The standout number one selection for manager should, without question, be Jock Stein. The manager of the first British, and the only Scottish, team to win the European Cup is apparently “unlucky to miss out”. I think you ought to change that to “outrageously missed out”.

Alistair Jackson

I WOULD like to make a brief comment on Ian Bayne’s letter (June 21) regarding Thomas Muir.

It was very fitting indeed that this great martyr was described as “the true father of Scottish democracy”. No praise is too high for the great sacrifice he made for the people of his day, and he should be much better remembered by the Scottish people of our own time than he appears to be.

When his elderly mother heard the sad news of his death, she is said to have penned the following impressive lines, which say it all:

Doomed from this mansion to a foreign land;
To waste his days of gay and sprightly youth,
And all for sowing with a liberal hand,
The seeds of that seditious libel – Truth.

Norrie Paton