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Education convener urges more collegiate approach

MSP says committee will be less of a `battleground' during his watch

MSP says committee will be less of a `battleground' during his watch

The new convener of the Scottish Parliament's education and culture committee predicts it will be less of a "battleground" under his stewardship.

Stewart Maxwell, an SNP list MSP and former communities and sports minister, will encourage a more collegiate and measured approach from the committee, in which five of the nine members are from his party.

"The education committee had a reputation before for being a bit of a battleground - I certainly don't want that," Mr Maxwell told TESS.

He stressed that dissenting voices on the committee - convened by former Labour MSP Karen Whitefield in its previous incarnation - would still be encouraged, and that it would be a priority to ensure "everyone gets a fair crack of the whip".

The West of Scotland MSP, whose proudest moment as a parliamentarian came when his private member's bill led to the banning of smoking in public, promised "proper, robust analysis" of legislation, rather than what he described as a "broad brush" in the past.

Mr Maxwell, who had various roles at Strathclyde Fire Brigade before becoming an MSP, believes his limited experience of education in working life will give him the advantage of an outsider's perspective. He added that his daughter, a pupil at Woodfarm High in East Renfrewshire, was part of the first cohort of pupils experiencing Curriculum for Excellence.

The committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday, although it will not be until its second gathering that it deals with any meaningful business.

henry.hepburn@tes.co.uk

OTHER COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Clare Adamson (SNP), Central Scotland list MSP, 43, elected last month. North Lanarkshire councillor from 2007, following 20-year IT career

Claire Baker (Labour), Mid-Scotland and Fife list MSP, 40, elected in 2007 and one of two surviving members - Liz Smith is the other - of the previous education committee.

Marco Biagi (SNP), Edinburgh Central MSP, 28, elected last month. Policy adviser during this year's election campaign, who won his seat from former Labour minister Sarah Boyack.

Jenny Marra (Labour), North East Scotland list MSP, 33, elected last month. Former roles include Dundee University head of press and spokeswoman for Labour's MEPs.

Joan McAlpine (SNP), South Scotland list MSP, 49, elected last month. Former Scottish journalist of the year who worked for The Scotsman, The Herald, and The Sunday Times.

Liam McArthur (Liberal Democrat) Orkney MSP, 43, elected in 2007. Previously special advisor to Jim Wallace, the former Deputy First Minister.

Liz Smith (Conservative), Mid-Scotland and Fife list MSP, 51, elected in 2007. Education spokeswoman for her party and former economics and modern studies teacher.

Jean Urquhart (SNP), Highlands and islands list MSP, 62, elected last month. Former Highland Council vice-convener and has run Ullapool's Ceilidh Place hotel and music venue for about 40 years.

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