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. . . as EIS snipes from the flank;European parents conference

War on two major fronts is never the best strategy but a second skirmish with the Educational Institute of Scotland is proving equally thorny for the Scottish School Board Association.

The union has demanded the association withdraw a questionnaire about the Government's consultation paper on boards after challenging what it says are misleading questions. The association accuses the union of twisting arms and stifling open debate.

David Hutchison, its president, said: "We have been requested to withdraw the questionnaire, which we refused to do. We disagreed totally with what the EIS are saying about the questions. The EIS wants to stifle debate rather than open it up. They seem to be afraid of the questions we are asking and of some of the answers that will come back."

Ronnie Smith, the EIS general's secretary, said the union had concerns about the questionnaire and had invited the association to reflect on them. A meeting failed to strike a compromise.

Mr Smith had advised members who sat on boards not to use the SSBA questionnaire in replying to the Scottish Office "because in a number of respects it is misleading and misinterpreted what is in the Government document".

He said of the questionnaire's section on legally binding home contracts: "They put a spin on questions. It is not a very balanced or accurate reflection of the questions asked in the consultation."

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