The SNP’s programme for government in 2016 stated: “It is the defining mission of this government to close the poverty-related attainment gap” in education. Now, Shirley-Anne Somerville admits that the projected ten-year time frame for this is being abandoned. This is disastrous for children in disadvantaged areas, for their families and for Scotland. The surest way for a child in a poor family to achieve success is to raise him/ her out of poverty by providing a top-class education. It is shameful that Scotland whose record in education used to be enviable, cannot achieve this and that its government has now given up trying. We have seen recently the downright waste of public money in Scotland, with the ferries, the Gupta involvement. BiFab, “foreign hubs” and much more. If these monies had been invested in re-engineering Scottish education to become once more a system to emulate, we might have started on the way to providing a first-class education for all of our children. As it is, the Scottish Government’s own figures show tha. since that 2016 programme was announced, overall attainment in numeracy and literacy. in Scotland’s schools has declined- levelling down rather than levelling up. I suppose that is one way of narrowing the attainment gap. Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.