Oh, Canada, what a state we're in

AND YOU thought things were bad in Scottish education? Take a look at Canada, urged Natalie Stein, a school superintendent in Scarborough, Ontario.

Around 126,000 teachers and administrators went on strike for two weeks a year ago and the discontent continues to rumble on under a "teacher-bashing" Conservative government intent on emphasising the "crisis in education", Ms Stein said.

Ms Stein, a divisional manager in charge of 21 schools, said: "We have never seen such a demoralised bunch of people and the quality of education is diminishing as we speak. All the sports, clubs and committees are disappearing because teachers feel so unrecognised.

"All the voluntary time they have given, they do not want to give any more. We are heading towards the same situation as you."

Wrangles over closing schools, difficulties recruiting new staff to the profession and successive cuts add to the gloom, Ms Stein said.

School security policies have to include how to deal with guns carried by pupils with a "pistol-packing mentality" and gay and lesbian sex education has to be included in the curriculum.

Children also sing the national anthem, "Oh, Canada", every morning.

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