I CONSIDER that your front-page report (“Swinney’s £20,000 sweetener to train as a teacher”, The Herald, October 9) discloses an act of desperation which I suspect may well attract the wrong people into the profession.

I feel that the Cabinet Secretary should sit down and ask himself why people qualified under the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) regulations for entry to pre-service teacher education courses – which then enable them to teach science, technology engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects – need to be bribed. Is he certain he understands the causes, effects and range of alternative models?

Perhaps it will come to him that the true definition of being qualified to teach is not about the bit of paper from a university which the GTCS demands. He should be concentrating on ways of finding the right people who have a calling to the vocation as his prime directive. He needs men and women who have flexible qualities which transcend subject content expertise .They require a sense of total commitment to the idea of school based education for all; excellent communication skills; empathy with all young people and a desire to meet the specific learning needs of individual pupils.

The majority of young people these new teachers will soon find themselves teaching are unlikely to be going on to university either through declining the opportunity or having other talents. As probationers such teachers will quickly discover that no matter how highly they are academically qualified, the ability to like and relate to young people is not something you can learn from a book. Many pupils will have no interest in Stem subjects and express their challenging disaffection.

The balance between human qualities and academic qualifications is not always easy to balance in terms of relative value for assessing teachers but we have to ask why applicants essentially bought for £20K did not make teaching their first choice of career.

If John Swinney perseveres with this honey pot approach I suggest he gives out the money in small increments to these new applicants. After all, if they are all that well qualified, their previous employer may at some time offer an incentive to come back.

Bill Brown,

46 Breadie Drive, Milngavie.

I NOTE John Swinney's proposal to give £20,000 to people with degrees in science and maths, working in industry, to retrain to enter the teaching profession. What about existing young teachers saddled with a student loan to pay off? Surely they should also be given financial help with this to encourage them to stay in the profession.

G. Braidwood Rodger,

6 Woodhouse Court, Glasgow.