Letters, Tuesday, October 15, 2013

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Education is not a political football

PREDICTABLY, the publication of the OECD findings into educational standards among 19 to 24-year-olds, ranking England 21/24 for literacy and 19/24 for numeracy amongst developed nations, has produced a political furore of blame and counter blame.

 Perhaps the message contained in this data, that England’s next generation of pensioners is more literate and numerate than its youngest adults, is a warning to politicians of all persuasions that pedagogy should be left to the experts: teachers in schools and educational researchers in universities.

 For too long education has been used as a tool by politicians to engage in social experimentation at the expense of our young people.

 The manner in which a surgeon removes a patient’s appendix is not dictated by which political party happens to form the current Government, so why should the way children are taught to read or compute numbers be?

Tim Dumble,

South Bents.

‘Local banks’ are not very local

“WELCOME back to local banking” was the header on the letter I received from the new TSB bank.

 I originally opened an account with the TSB some 25 years ago when I left school and was transfered to a Lloyds TSB account when the two companies merged together.

 I have had no problems whatsoever with Lloyds but was worried when the news was released about the two banks separating.

 My concerns weren’t to last long though, as the correspondances I received soon after from the TSB put my mind to rest.

 However, I am now a bit upset, to say the least, as now there are only two TSB branches –Sunderland or Newcastle city centre! This, to me, is not “local banking” as described.

 I contacted the TSB customer service department and was informed that there are no immediate plans to open more branches.

 As a Lloyds TSB customer I had the choice to use its branches in Houghton, Southwick, Chester Road, Sea Road, Seaham, Hetton, two in Washington and two in Sunderland city centre, which were great to just pop into when passing.

 These locations also offered free parking. Now a trip to my “local bank” incurs a hefty city centre parking charge.

 I don’t envy anyone who lives or works in places like Washington and Houghton, or older people who aren’t as mobile as me.

 I am really not happy about this and am seriously considering transferring to a more accessible bank. The only problem is, it’s going to cause me a lot of work contacting all my direct debit companies.

Angry customer,

Plains farm.

Can you help in family search?

I AM trying to trace a member of my family and wondered if any Echo readers could help.

 The person I am looking for is my aunt – she was born Mary Elizabeth Carter in April 1948.

 I never knew about her until recently and have no information other than she was the daughter of Norman Carter an Mary Ann Lamb. They lived in Cumberland Street and then Norman Street, Sunderland. I believe she married but I do not know the name of the person she married. I would appreciate any help with this.

 If you have any information, email the.fitzgerald739@gmail.com.

Richard Fitzgerald.

Hopes for my bucket list ...

I AM intrigued by the bucket list idea – us older types fulfilling ambitions as our lives reach their climax.

 I would like to meet broadcasters Victoria Derbyshire, Rachel Burden or Gabby Logan. It could be a fun thing. A laugh and a natter. Perhaps on television.

 The trio are all professional broadcasters. I went the amateur route, doing 6,000 phone-ins in 30 years and writing countless press letters. Fingers crossed.

Max Nottingham,

Name and address supplied.