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Executive pushes the consultation button

Sam Galbraith, the Children and Education Minister, confirmed yesterday (Thursday) that he would be pressing ahead with the education forum promised in Labour's coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats. The forum will be composed of heads and teachers "to ensure that practical experience is brought more directly to bear on policy development." The latest think-tank is also intended to influence Government research priorities. It will meet twice a year.

Peter Peacock, the deputy minister, also announced on Wednesday that the Executive will pay Save the Children pound;6000 to spend a month canvassing pupils' views on its education bill. The charity will set up eight focus groups of 80 pupils from P1 to S4 to give their ideas on how schooling could be improved. There will be just four weeks to feed their views into the system before consultation on the bill finishes at the end of October.

Fiona Macleod, the deputy shadow education spokesperson, said: "I'm delighted that ministers have finally taken my advice, even at this late stage. But with such a short timescale and only 80 children involved out of 800,000 in Scotland, I fear the exercise could be a bit superficial." Brian Monteith, the Tories' education spokesperson, said the move was "presentational flim-flam."

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