Forum has outlived its usefulness

A FORUM set up in the 1980s to fight the education policies of the former Tory minister Michael Forsyth is set to be disbanded.

The Scottish Education Forum's annual general meeting this month is likely to be its last. Members seem agreed that it has outlived its usefulness.

A discussion document consulting members on plans to wind the forum up said: "There is no longer widespread opposition within Scottish education to the policy direction of government, and access to policy formers has been greatly increased.

"The question thus emerges as to whether, and in what form, the forum should continue, given that its original raison d'etre has disappeared."

The forum was set up more than 20 years ago as a pressure group to lobby Westminster in the interests of Scottish education. Its members inclu-ded the Educational Institute of Scotland, the Scottish Secondary Teachers'

Association, the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, and other unions and parent organisations.

A spokesman for one of the founding members, the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, said: "It is still the only group which brings all these bodies together, but there are other ways that people can express their views."

However, he believes the forum played a crucial role in creating a consensual approach: "It brought people from Scottish education together to speak and to get to know each other. We are now in a better position than we were 20 years ago."

* Meanwhile at the Church of Scotland's General Assembly this week, its Youth Assembly called on teachers to educate young people about sexual abstinence as a lifestyle choice within sex education in schools.

The Moderator of the National Youth Assembly, Judith Taylor, said younger members also wanted the church to take a more liberal stance towards civil partnerships.

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