I HAVE followed avidly all the scorn and undeserved speculation regarding the reopening of state schools in Scotland.

As a long-time-retired primary teacher, it pains me greatly, that during the course of an extremely serious and life-threatening viral pandemic, we appear to have many journalists and other erstwhile sudden “expert educationists” promoting and pressing for a return of all pupils to state schools in August.

The Scottish Government have been judicious in my estimation in their reluctance to place any pupil, teacher, cleaner, janitor, learning assistant etc at risk of becoming infected or infecting unwittingly others with this deadly virus. It therefore begs this question. Why have we heard no reference to the private school sector in all of this debate?

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Private schools have charitable status. They have been closed for a similarly long period of time. They took a decision at the outset to return their pupils after the summer recess.

Their pupils will likely have all manner of sophisticated IT at their disposal for enhanced study or teaching sessions at home. Their teachers may well have a much smaller number of pupils per class (possibly as low as 15 compared to the 25-30 plus I experienced in the state sector) because that is what parents pay their school fees for. They most likely can arrange to have good social distancing measures put in place given the greatly reduced class sizes.

Therefore, it seems grossly unfair to burden the state sector unnecessarily with demon headlines and probing questions about their provision and ability to socially distance adequately. We have an unfair system at work, but actually no-one is drawing any of these comparisons.

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If state education was properly funded, all teachers would have an optimum class size of 15 or fewer pupils. I would hasten to add that behaviour and learning would improve, so much so that attainment might well equal that of any private-sector institution.

Finance is the main factor in this equation and I fail to understand why private educational provision is not being used in the process of understanding the shortcomings perceived or manufactured in state provision.

A way forward to increase attainment would be the employment of more teachers in the state sector, the provision of more classrooms and schools. Social distancing would therefore be a greatly reduced problem (not possible in the short term but worthy of serious consideration). Private institutions are given “charitable status”. This I could never fully understand, as I felt my pupils deserved the same status and resources as any other, anywhere in the country.

We have a dedicated teaching workforce and hardworking ancillary staff all over Scotland. Let us not fire arrows of disparaging comments at them for the sake of it. Let us acknowledge that they do excellent work in the face of fiercely, highly financed, private competition.

Tuesday’s announcement about all pupils returning in August “if” the virus infection rate continues to fall in no way affects the intrinsic point I am making about the inequity of provision for all state teachers and their pupils.

Sheena Watson
Kinghorn, Fife

ROBIN MacLean (Letters, June 25) made me smile as I recalled my own reaction during FMQs recently as I listened to some so-called party leaders submit their inane and counter-productive questions until Willie Rennie spoke. My reaction was “Who are you and what have you done with Willie Rennie?” I’ve always believed him to be a good human being, albeit sometimes with a child-like approach to the real world, but his approach to this crisis and his support of our Scottish Government is to be applauded.

Kate Armstrong