YEP Letters: May 17

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Monarchy gives country stability

Don Burslam, Dewsbury

WE have had extensive coverage of the French elections.

My reaction is how fortunate we are over here with our long-established monarchy which is above the party battle and has given this country the stability few other countries can boast.

Yes, our system is expensive and the pyramid which supports the monarchy does attract its share of criticism, particularly such institutions as the House of Lords.

The price is well worth paying, though, because we have largely avoided the divisions and extremism which have disfigured other countries.

Tests meant to assess schools, not the children

A Davids, Leeds

The story about children in Leeds being in tears over their SATs exams does indeed raise troubling questions – about the nature of the teaching going on in some of our classrooms.

I was astonished by the comments of the headteacher who labelled the tests as “cruel” and “unnecessary”, as if they were some kind of torture or punishment.

These tests are meant to be assessing the teachers and the quality of education in schools, not the children themselves.

If some children have reached the point where they’re in tears or missing sleep over sitting a test that has absolutely no consequence for their individual future, you have to wonder what on earth they’re being told to get them into that state.

It’s surely a disgraceful indictment of the kind of pressure being placed on them, not by the test, but by the people preparing them for the test.

Children shouldn’t be made to feel so much pressure at such a young age – on that we can agree – but I think it’s a little convenient for some teachers to place the blame squarely on these tests.

We do need some means of measuring teacher performance, and the Sutton Trust says that gains in pupil test scores are the best available way of doing that. If some teachers disagree, they need to suggest an alternative method that would be just as rigorous.

Or maybe teachers should start asking themselves some hard questions about whether they are really preparing children for SATs in the most appropriate way.

The answers may be uncomfortable for some to hear.

Target cars,
not cyclists

Peter Dixon, Pudsey

In reply to “Action needed to stop cycling on pavements”, (YEP Letters, May 15) I would suggest that we need to ensure that vital police resources are targeted based on the evidence rather than observations. In 2015, 87 per cent of pedestrian fatalities in West Yorkshire involved a road traffic collision with a car.

The drivers have to sit a test and the police enforce the laws. That doesn’t seem to have made any difference for those who have been killed and seriously injured by drivers on our streets.

One of the reasons is the worst point, a collision. The risk of a fatality if you are hit by a bicycle is minimal , but if you are hit by a car, the risk is substantially increased.

The pavement is no guarantee of safety, with over 100 pedestrian fatalities caused by motorists on the pavement across the UK every year.

A police campaign against poor cycling goes against all the evidence when people continue to die on our roads at the hands of motorists.

A cycle lane does not necessarily create a safe space for cyclists. A broken road surface or a road layout that encourages drivers to pass close to cyclists is easily enough to push cyclists on to footpaths.

We need more infrastructure that prioritises cycling, walking and public transport around Leeds that will help to reduce both perceived and actual risks that face pedestrians and cyclists.

Janet Porter, Leeds 7

I was interested in the comments by Trevor Wainwright regarding cyclists and motorists.

I have complained to the West Yorkshire Police many times about motorists, let alone cyclists, driving on to the footpath. This is a dangerous practice.

I absolutely agree that footpaths should be for pedestrian use, although there are increasing numbers of footpaths which are divided so cyclists can share.

It makes sense for cyclists such as myself, aged 70 and a slow cyclist (I cycle for exercise as I find walking very painful) to be able to access a cycle lane (where one exists) or share a footpath (properly organised with a white dividing line)

It is far too dangerous in today’s traffic conditions, to subject all cyclists regardless of speed, age etc to share the roads with fast moving traffic.

Search for information

Belinda Short, by email

I was wondering if any readers could help me.

I’ve been researching my family tree for a few years now but have got a bit stuck.

I can’t find any record of my grandfather on my mother’s side, before he married my grandmother in 1938.

These are the facts that I do know, but I don’t if any of it is true, which makes it more confusing.

His name was George Reginald Denby, born in Normanton near Leeds on 28th September 1909. He died July 1987. I know he had a brother approximately two years older, I thought his name was John but after speaking to my uncle his name may have been Harold Amos. I tried to get a birth certificate but it couldn’t be found. I was told he left home at the age of 16. After marrying he joined the Army for a short while but due to ill health he had to leave.

I know this isn’t much to go on but I’m getting quite desperate to solve this mystery.

Benefits of technology?

Jean Lorriman, by email

When l was born technology was not a word used the nearest thing l can think of is the telephone if you were rich or the red booths if you were not.

I thought gas pokers were marvellous inventions after futile and exasperating attempts by my parents to light a coal fire. Obviously I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth but after the war l had a great childhood playing by the river and canals building rafts and jumping the locks.

Games were whip ‘n top brightly coloured with chalks and games of skipping with ladies after a hard day at the mill coming out to turn the ropes.

The golf links nearby provided plenty of opportunity for sledging and sliding. What l enjoyed was really a childhood of outwood bound courses which today would cost a small fortune! We were all taught the three Rs and reading out loud in order to communicate verbally and literally. Today youngsters are constantly on the phone and schools may have to actually introduce lessons in how to socalise and make actual jargon-free conversation.

However technology is here to stay and l can operate a tablet and was lucky enough to have five years of free university education – but l wouldn’t change my technology-free childhood for all the cyber stuff in this increasingly alarming world.

Protect forest from fracking

John Appleyard, Liversedge

In a matter of weeks, Sherwood Forest, Britain’s most famous woodland, could be at risk.

A huge energy company called Ineos wants to explore underneath it to frack for gas. If this goes ahead Sherwood Forest could be filled with spluttering lorries, heavy machinery and explosives by next month.

I’ve been a long time environmentalist and am asking the Forestry Commission – the government agency in charge of our forests – not to give this plan the green light and to protect the forest from the destruction caused by fracking.

I hope readers will feel the same.

YEP Letters: September 15