Our education system – and the need for a radical and immediate overhaul – is something about which I’m both passionate and vocal. Indeed, I have spent so long on my high horse I am now saddle-sore and suffering from chronic vertigo.

So it was with growing despair – and a touch of equinophobia – I read this week that two-thirds of 13-year-olds are currently failing to reach expected standards of writing.

According to the Scottish Survey of Achievement (SSA), performance steadily declines after primary three, when almost all pupils are achieving to expectations.

It’s a shocking indictment on our education system and the quality of our teachers. The long-term implications of this poor academic performance are severe: it will undoubtedly impact our economy and the future workforce, which is already limited by significant skills shortages in key labour areas.

Business surveys regularly carried out by the FSB and Chambers of Commerce reveal members are experiencing skills shortages, in technical, literacy, communication, customer service and numeracy skills. That literacy and numeracy skills are in short supply is clearly a direct result of our failing education system.

There is also a strong correlation between educational qualifications and industry sector, with many of the professional service-based businesses in particular being led by degree-educated and professionally qualified owners. But if our pupils are leaving school unable to read, write and count properly they are unlikely to progress to higher education, and even less likely to be in a position to run a business. It’s apparent that business – and ultimately the economy – is going to suffer.

So how do we fix it? Well proposals announced this week by the Scottish Government to regularly assess teachers throughout their career to check they are still competent in the classroom is a start, although to be honest, I’m stunned it isn’t done already. Running such an important system with no quality control is just wrong.

But reaccreditation to maintain standards is only one aspect. I suspect we need to go back to the roots and look at the quality of the individuals we are recruiting into teacher training in the first place.

We need to focus on the schoolgirl or boy who decides that they want to teach when they grow up. We need to focus on how their education and motivation is encouraged and supported throughout school, college or university and the training process through which they all must go before being let loose on our little darlings. We just don’t focus at all on the crucial personality and character traits that make a good teacher.

For a start the selection process should be much stricter. Getting a few straight As in English, maths and perhaps a science just isn’t enough. What about their skills in creativity? Their ability to communicate? The warmth and encouragement they exude in the classroom? Are they dedicated to educational excellence and passionate about their subject? Or do they just fancy a reasonable salary and more holidays than they could possibly know what to do with?

The system needs a radical overhaul. Would-be teachers should be trained in communications skills. They should understand (not just be taught, there’s a difference) how little brains work and learn. They should be encouraged to use their creative right brain just as much as their academic left brain. They should be passionate about their subject and innovative in its delivery.

Then they should face another selection process – to assess if they have reached the standard expected of them before they start one of the most important jobs in the world.

Once in the job, continual assessment of teachers is crucial and feedback from pupils and parents would be invaluable in that process. We’ve got school league tables, so what about teacher league tables? If they don’t make the grade, they’re relegated – out of the education system.

We need to get really serious about this. Our future and that of our children and their children depends on these people and I don’t think we give them what they need in order to do the very best by our kids.

The government must tackle every tier of the education system to get to the root of the skills problem. Poor education and skills training will hinder Scotland’s ability to grow its economy and compete as a significant player on the international stage; and low overall unemployment figures disguise the fact there are pockets of high economic inactivity existing in parallel with businesses being prevented from expansion as a result of high local and sectoral levels of hard-to-fill vacancies.

For too long, businesses have been left to finish off the work of the school system and deal with people’s problems with the most basic skills.

Government clearly needs to work closely and effectively with business to develop an education system that works for everyone concerned, teachers, pupils and future employers.