IoS letters, emails & online postings (21 August 2011)

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If we don't support worthwhile activities to inspire today's youth, how can we expect them to be valuable and valued members of society (Janet Street-Porter, 14 August)? Governments have chipped away at schools' sports and arts curricula for decades in the mistaken hope that children would be better equipped for the world with more academic subjects pushed at them. But children need a broad and varied curriculum to be able to make sense of the world and to know what they are good at. PE and the arts have been at the bottom of the primary curriculum pile for years, so children leave school with the idea that getting involved with teams, bands and the like isn't important.

Children with no structure in their home lives need structure in their school lives. This can be provided through sports and the arts. And where are the youth clubs, sports venues and music or drama opportunities? They should be in every community and on every street corner. Responsibility, rules and respect can be learnt from the commitment of being part of a team.

The Venezuelan music programme El Sistema is inspiring thousands of children the world over. But here, the Government is cutting money from local council budgets, and youth services are decreasing. The Government must take a long hard look at itself before it lays blame for the riots.

Judith Johnson

St. Neots, Cambridgeshire

In asking who would now open a shop on Tottenham High Road, Philip Hensher reflects his unfamiliarity with the area ("I'm a bleeding-heart liberal...", 14 August). Nearly all chain stores and banks moved out years ago. The population is mostly poor or very poor, and profits were small. They were mostly replaced by community shops and cafés, often run by Turks. On 6 August these were mostly untouched.

Keith Flett

London N17

I was very surprised to read in your reports of the riots that the population of Manchester is 2.5 million people. There are 498,800 people resident in the city of Manchester, as of last month. This would put a very different perspective on the percentage of unemployed. True, Greater Manchester has a population of 2.5 million, but it includes Bolton, Wigan, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Bury and Salford.

Stephen Beckett

Birmingham

Janet Street-Porter says of the riots, "these children are the product of the Blair years". May I suggest they are the children of parents brought up in the Thatcher years?

Richard Vaughton

Sainte-Colombe-sur-l'Hers, Aude, France

As a resident of Los Angeles, I have little respect for Bill Bratton, who was chief of police here, and would not wish him on any country trying to improve their policing ("Orde mocks Cameron over police adviser", 14 August). The last thing the UK needs is someone like Bratton. It is for fear of being seen to criticise Bratton that I am writing anonymously.

Name withheld

Los Angeles

If, as the PM says, Bill Bratton will have no salary or staff paid by the taxpayer, who is paying for him?

Barry Kushner

Liverpool

D J Taylor makes no mention in his article on Mrs Simpson and her pro-Nazi husband of her affairs with Nazi leaders (Bottom Line, 14 August). Winston Churchill was so worried, that he had the duke moved to an obscure little island.

Barney Lewis

Northampton

The surge in the number of sixth-form pupils doing the extended project shows young people are opting for the one qualification that can prepare them for university ("University hopefuls add to their A-levels", 14 August). In seminars on science, ethics and philosophy, and in researching for dissertations, students learn to think critically and work independently. Ministers and teachers should recognise the popularity of a course that broadens the horizons of those disenchanted by the spoon-feeding associated with other qualifications.

Patrick Derham

Headmaster, Rugby School

Why, on the day after the England cricket team became No 1 in the world, did your sports section show a photograph of two footballers having a fight and follow this with 10 pages of football (14 August)? Why was cricket not the headline?

Marian Gunn

Nuneaton, Warwickshire

Michael Coveney, in his excellent evaluation of current musicals, is a little hard on productions such as Singin' in the Rain and 42nd Street ("Some enchanted evenings", 14 August). As with straight theatre, dance or opera, if good musicals are not repeatedly staged, how does a new generation get to know the classics, be they Hamlet, Aida or the latest hit, Crazy for You?

Amy Lake

Salford

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Letters to the Editor, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk (with address; no attachments, please); fax: 020 7005 2627; online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2011/August/21

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