STEPH Brawn’s article on the influence of church representatives in Scottish education (Fresh calls to ditch ‘historical hangover’ of church reps on council board, May 28) is both timely and highly relevant.

Just as the presence of religious representatives in the House of Lords is archaic and wholly irrational in the 21st century (as is the presence of the chamber itself), church representatives on education committees in Scotland appear to be undemocratic, outmoded, superfluous and, as Fraser Sutherland (CEO of the Humanist Society Scotland) correctly observes, “a historical hangover.”

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Religious representatives participating actively on key matters such as school closures and teaching appointments in schools casts our Scottish councils in a far-from-inclusive light and anoints the Christian churches with an influence in educational matters that is disproportionate to their position and authority in contemporary Scottish society.

Unsurprisingly, in Steph’s article the Catholic Church adopts its usual over-sensitive and pugnacious defence of its intrusive role in Scottish education. The hierarchy of the church still operates the anachronistic and subjective Catholic approval system regarding the appointment of staff in Catholic schools, a system that is almost Trumpesque in its absurdity and lack of transparency. It allows the church to retain an inordinate amount of power and control over RC schools by appointing staff who satisfy the church’s criteria contained in “personal religious belief and character”, a criteria so vague and subjective that outstanding teachers who may, for example, be LGBT could be rejected.

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In short, the approval system is a charade – everyone in Catholic education knows it but, like the emperor’s new clothes, nobody wants to be the first to break ranks and say so, especially the significant number of staff outwith the Catholic religion who work in RC schools, who must view it with a mixture of bewilderment and amusement.

Scottish councils must dare to threaten the arcane authority still enjoyed by the churches today in our educational system, a power they will not relinquish without a struggle, irrespective of fair play or equal employment rights for all. A modern democratic and independent Scotland should demand no less.

Owen Kelly

IN terms of independence, I would suggest that there are three main groups in Scotland.

1. The convinced “No “group. These people are going to be very hard to persuade, but they should not be ignored, and their views should not be ignored. They are our fellow Scots and we should try hard to understand their thinking and to address their perceived problems.

2. The “diehard independents”. For a variety of laudable reasons this group wants independence from the UK at any cost. They want an early second referendum and might even be happy with a 51% Yes vote, even when this leaves 49% of our compatriots dissatisfied. They do, however, constitute an essential pressure group that will not allow us to relax in terms of our heading towards the desired final outcome.

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3. The group that is “almost, but not totally convinced” in terms of how we will address the problems that will almost certainly go along with the benefits of independence. This group WANTS to be convinced that independence will work for all of Scotland.

Group 3 is perhaps numerically the largest of these three groups, and if they can be convinced that independence will have a positive benefit for themselves, their families and their friends, then I think the battle is won!

In terms of winning over Group 3. I would suggest that by far the best route for the SNP would be to tell them the problems that they intend to address, how to address these problems, and finally (and this is key!) ... DO IT!!

Group 3 is not going to be convinced by sophisticated political arguments or good intentions telling us how good things might be at some future point! This group will be convinced by RESULTS.

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By results, to be really blunt, I mean how do our outcomes compare to those of the rest of the Westminster-led UK? Is our employment rate better? Are our schools serving the needs of a broad range of pupils, from special educational needs to university entrance? Are NHS waiting times better? Are buses and trains run more efficiently?, Are our care services capable of dealing better with our ageing population? Are we addressing inequality and poverty issues noticeably better?

Are we avoiding high-profile blunders such as slow delivery of ferries? The Westminster government does not seem to be very concerned with matters such as this when you consider the billions of pounds being spent on HS2, which basically only serves the London area commuting needs. Scotland should be concerned!

I have been an SNP member since the last referendum, and I have no intentions of giving up that membership. I suppose, however, that there are a lot of “Group 3” worries and fears within my independence-inclined thinking. Please make me even more convinced.

Alex Leggatt