Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Readers’ letters: Highland sex education controversy, decline of capercaillie and Madeline McCann

In today's letters, our readers discuss the Highland sex education controversy, the decline of capercaillie and the disappearance of Madeline McCann.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Sir, – Shame on The P&J for the April 2 article “Filthy language in sex education resources has no place in Highland primary classrooms, say parents”.

I fear this will give parents who want to wrap their children in cotton wool a platform to scaremonger others.

Relationships, sexual health and parenthood (RSHP) sex education is about safeguarding.

Some of the assertions are just incorrect. The entire curriculum is online so it is untrue to claim “parents don’t know what is being taught”. If they don’t, that is an active choice.

Teachers are explicitly told to teach from the published slides and notes. We don’t make up our own content or find our own resources. It is taught by the script.

RSHP is a really good resource to use.

It is not sexual. It’s medical. For example, children are taught it’s not a vagina, it’s a vulva.

That is the medical term for it and I don’t understand why it is any more sexual than using code names for things.

RSHP is a blunt resource, presenting facts in a way that protects children by making them aware that these parts of their bodies have a proper name.

Looking at the worst of examples, teachers would have little idea what a pupil would mean if they came into school saying someone had touched their “cookie”, or whatever indirect name their household uses for body parts.

RSHP is designed to protect children, and is a really good means of sex education because it’s truth and honesty that children need to know.

There are advisory notes on gender. Teachers are reminded to be inclusive in how we speak about things: “women who have periods” or “people with penises”.

The gendered material isn’t until around primary four and children can comprehend a lot more than adults give them credit for.

That is especially the case now, consuming media at ridiculous rates through social media, they know fine well what a trans person is.

Even eight-year-olds have TikTok these days.

Parents come out with this but are quite happy for their children to have full access to social media, for them to get complete nonsense from TikTok. They can look up things that really are quite inappropriate and even pornographic, uncensored. But then these parents are upset about RSHP. It is ridiculous.

Image: Shutterstock

Letters to parents state what the curriculum will cover and with an assurance we won’t go off the books.

“This is what your child will be told and here is why we think it is really important,” it will say.

And the Beauly mother’s dramatics about homeschooling would be an overreaction for lessons equating to an hour a week for about 10 weeks.

Usually, if the school is any good, they won’t even give the option to opt out. Why should they?

There might be a line letting parents with any concerns know they can pull their children out of the class. But it is not advisory because it is not beneficial to the child.

There are those who say: “It should be for the parents.” That is all very well for children with open parents willing to have that conversation. But not all have that knowledge or are comfortable speaking to their children about sex.

RSHP is there to create a universal experience and safeguarding children.

Publishing such a piece on RSHP is irresponsible considering the possible implications. I hope parents don’t buy into the hysteria and withdraw their children from the lessons.

It does not take much for people to read something in the newspaper or on social media and act upon it as if it were sacrosanct.

It is far easier than researching the content.

I have faith that the majority of parents are, and will continue to be, happy with what is being taught.

The few who subscribe to the concerns expressed in Louise Glen’s article should have more faith in us. Teachers would be the first to raise concerns if material is inappropriate.

Ultimately, we are teaching RSHP because we care about their children, we want them to be safe and informed about their bodies and relationships.

A. Teacher, North-east Scotland. (name and address supplied).

No Brexit dividend for Scotland or UK

Sir, – I thought it entirely appropriate that Ian Lakin’s letter “Scotland on cusp of Brexit dividend” was published on the April 1 – April Fool’s Day – because he is taking us all for fools when he claims that the UK is now moving in the right direction post Brexit.

Let’s be honest about this, shall we? Output has already fallen, growth has stagnated and is now worse than any other country in the G7 apart from Russia. In fact, the UK economy still hasn’t recovered to pre-Covid levels whereas every country in the Eurozone has. While the economy is not in recession there is still a risk it could be later this year.

Business investment has flatlined since 2016 as has overall investment with both being well below trend. Interest rate rises meant to counter inflation have had a negative effect on household finances and have particularly hurt those with mortgages. Worse, they are preventing young people from being able to get on to the so-called property ladder. Inflation – particularly food price inflation – is at record highs and going on holiday to Europe has become a nightmare because of the new rules on passport checks.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris. Image: Robert Thorne

There is also plenty of evidence Paris has overtaken London as Europe’s biggest stock market in yet another indication of the UK’s decline. The lack of freedom of movement is also impacting employers trying to recruit personnel at all levels and of course especially in the NHS and care sector.

Trying to claim the CPTP (Comprehensive and Trans-Pacific Partnership) is some sort of win is risible. It only represents a 0.08% GDP gain or about £20 per person which hardly comes close to repairing the hit to the economy cause by Brexit given it’s 50 times greater.

What’s more, the UK already had bilateral deals in place with nine of the 11 CPTPP countries and when we were in the EU we were rule makers but now as members of the CPTPP we are rule takers.

The same applies to suggestions that somehow a visit by the King to Germany will suddenly revive trade between us. UK exports to Germany have fallen off a cliff since 2014, dropping from £52 billion to £41 billion in 2022. With companies like BMW shifting the production of the electric version of the ironically British Mini out of the UK, it’s obvious as to which direction the trend is.

Finally, yes, I have seen the London School of Economics’ report on comparing Brexit with Scottish independence.

It’s three years old, and now we understand better the awful impact Brexit is having I look forward to the second edition which one would assume will recognise the positive points arising from an independent Scotland joining the European Free Trade Association or the EU.

With both main unionist parties now supporting Brexit, Scottish politics is sharply divided but I believe the 62% who voted to remain in the EU is probably closer to 70% now, so for the majority, the political and constitutional choice should be cut and dried.

Dick Winchester, Aberdeenshire.

Attack on SNP just exposed Tory rule

Sir, – A double-take was required when reading Ian Lakin’s condemnation of SNP governance (Letters, March 28), and not because of its unfairness.

Unintentionally, it resonated more with the last 13 years of Tory misrule affording an opportunity to match this against his descriptors.

A virulent Brexit has moved the Tory party from the political mainstream to the right.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Image: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Successive PMs, under duress, have “gathered a group of dim-witted unquestioning acolytes, always willing to do their bidding and handed jobs and responsibilities far beyond their limited capabilities.”

Braverman is one example.“Carried away with power” and rule by “diktat”, the Illegal Migrants Bill is being imposed without regard to the plight of asylum seekers fleeing persecution. Who cares about international law?

Refugees are accommodated at great expense, conditional on them not working, even though Britain is desperate for workers. Efforts to introduce an unnecessary voter ID scheme will disenfranchise many young voters.

The pandemic was mismanaged and the economy trashed.

Trade barriers were increased, reducing access to EU markets. Britain’s sovereignty and global standing is diminished with peace threatened in Northern Ireland. Rather than apologise, Tories “shout out loud” blaming bogeymen: asylum seekers, immigrants, et al.

“Finally – the duplicity, dishonesty, and arrogance” – synonymous with the corrupt Tories is a matter of record. Will we ever forgive or forget the lies used to get Brexit done? Only time will tell the damage wrought to Britain.

Mr Lakin’s own words describe Tory incompetence perfectly. Words have consequences: just ask Boris Johnson!

Ian D McCormick. Aboyne.

Yousaf not waving but drowning

Sir, – Optimistic of an improvement on the current offering at Holyrood, I have just tuned in to first minister’s questions, alas any hope of the changing of the guard, evaporated quickly.

Humza Yousaf began where his predecessor ended by failing to answer the question asked, instead bawling out what appeared to be a pre-prepared rant, extolling the benefits of independence.

First Minister Humza Yousaf. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

We heard him proclaim: “He would make no apologies” and “take any lessons”. Where have we heard these soundbites before? The pandemic and Westminster are, of course, responsible for any of the SNP’s failings.

Predictably, “The People of Scotland” got a shout-out. I wonder if any P&J readers know who these people are that the SNP profess to know every intimate thought and desire of? I am unconvinced I am one of them.

I am certainly not one of the 0.5% of the population who elected him to high office but he and the SNP will not want that brought up, despite their demands for a general election, when the Tories had a similar party meltdown, twice.

Mr Yousaf then, after accusing Douglas Ross of resorting to personal insults, described the Conservative leader as “A third-rate politician, leading a third-rate party”. Whatever our political persuasion or our thoughts on Mr Ross, we should demand better from our first minister than trading insults, but in his defence, it is all he knows.

It was a big occasion for our new first minister and he can only improve.

From my perspective, it was like lying on a sunbed, watching a man, knotted hanky on head, rolling-up his trousers in preparation for a gentle paddle, only to end up in six-foot waves, struggling to keep afloat.

Someone will hopefully throw him a lifebelt but I don’t suppose it will be Mr Ross. Perhaps Gillian Slater will toss him an empty 2-litre plastic bottle and charge him 20p for it.

J Lawrence. Elgin.

Did Green MSP get on her bike?

Sir, – Through my door pops a flyer from Mrs Burgess MSP for the Green Party. Interesting reading, she makes several claims of which the SNP could claim the same. So who is responsible for the mess we’re in?

One thing’s for sure – neither party will hold their hands up. She claims that she has been travelling across the region to meet communities, she is to be applauded, but could she explain how she got to these communities? Surely being a true Green, not by car.

A bicycle would keep her fit, public transport would be a very hit or miss affair, so the question begs itself an answer.

The readership awaits your response.

Finlay G Mackintosh. Forres.

Vanity projects in place of libraries

Sir, – Barry Black’s letter (March 31) highlighted the crass ignorance of certain decision-makers behind the closure of libraries.

If they cannot grasp the facts surrounding the benefits of libraries, then do they also reckon that swimming pools don’t help in learning to swim?

People protesting library and swimming pool closures in Aberdeen. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Such vacuousness may explain why, while overseeing such closures and when our roads are crumbling all around us, they can find the money for their latest proposed bus and cycle lane vanity project.

Then again, given that blind green dogma seems to have overtaken any reasonable and considered argument, I can only imagine such folly will be justified on the basis that atherosclerosis is good for your health.

S Rizza. Hatton of Fintray.

ACC fooling no one over road changes

Sir, – While I appreciate we have just passed April Fool’s Day, I liked your piece on proposed changes to the roads system in the north and south of Aberdeen.

Finally, this disease first implemented in England is catching on in this city.

The crayons and white board are out yet again, to see how they can make life more difficult for working people.

The old chestnut is being dragged out about “public consultation” – now please remind me where I have heard that before from senior roads officials at ACC.

James Noel. Aberdeen.

Arresting decline of capercaillie

Sir, – The article “Bid to protect stronghold of capercaillie” on April 1 states capercaillie in the Cairngorms have declined from about 20,000 in the 1970s to 542 now.

There is an inverse relationship between the land ownership of the RSPB and their influence in the area and bird population.

Capercaillie which is in rapid decline in the Scottish Highlands. Image: Michaela Walch/Shutterstock

If the RSPB sell all their land holding and move out of the area, will there be a dramatic increase in the number of capercaillie?

Name and address supplied.

Stop unfair Madeline McCann police expenditure

Sir, – After 16 years and £13 million spent, why are the Metropolitan Police asking for more money to continue a fruitless investigation into the disappearance of Madeline McCann?

No other parents have been “spoiled” with this amount of taxpayer money to find their child.

If it had been the daughter or son of a bin man or cleaner, this sort of monies would not be involved.

The Met have lots of their own problems to sort out! Let the German police who have a suspect deal with it!

T Shirron, Davidson Drive, Aberdeen.

Families of prisoners

Sir, – On March 29, the charity Families Outside launched new research on the financial impact on families who support someone in prison or on remand. One of the main findings from the research was that women are spending more than half their income supporting someone in prison.

Child poverty rates are now back at the same level as when the SNP first took power almost 16 years ago, and with the new first minister’s promise to tackle the issue, this new research is valuable in highlighting what needs to be changed.

Currently, an estimated 27,000 children in Scotland are affected by a parent’s imprisonment – more than those affected by divorce.

The families of people held in prison overwhelmingly live on very low incomes, and the impact of the additional costs on families is that they experience extreme food and fuel poverty.

Charlotte Riley, Families outside.

Swimming pool is much-needed

Bucksburn swimming pool. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Sir, – Before they start to pull the building apart at Bucksburn Swimming Pool, I would invite all councillors and any building expert to go and have a real look at the present structure.

While I accept the boilers and some other parts need replacing, the main structure, reception area, the toilets, the changing rooms and the pool itself all look in a reasonable state.

Clearly, there is very little chance of the council building another pool anywhere due to the cost, but to bring this building back to use would cost far less and provide a much-needed facility.

Brian Rattray, Malcolm Road, Bucksburn.