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Moncur calls for a review of profession

There should be an independent review of the teaching profession, the Commission on Scottish Education advocates as one of the 60 recommendations in its report to be published on Monday.

The review should include teachers' conditions of service and the promotion structure within schools. But expectations of what teachers are expected to do should also be looked at because of the increased curricular and extra-curricular demands on them.

Charles Moncur, the former BP executive who chaired the commission, told the TES Scotland this week that a review independent of central and local government was needed to "instil trust" among employers and unions.

Change had to be carefully managed, he went on, instancing the example of his former company which had rid itself of levels of top-heavy bureaucracy, but through generous resourcing of the process. The outcome was improved performance and record profits.

The commission's report is intended to influence the Government and opposition parties in the run-up to the election. It seeks common ground and does not come up with many innovative ideas of its own. Mr Moncur said: "We are looking for a consensual way ahead while avoiding the lowest common denominator."

Nursery education should be available for all three and four-year-olds whose parents want it. Class sizes should be reduced from the maximum 33 in P1-P3, although no new level is set. The commission accepts that limit on resources stands in the way of these aims but states target dates should be fixed.

The commission was set up by the voluntary Forum on Scottish Education in the wake of the report from the UK-wide National Commission on Education. Support to the tune of Pounds 45,000 was received from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, as well as from the General Teaching Council and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council. The commissioners are: Malcolm Green, education convener in Glasgow; Margo McDonald, journalist; David Robertson, chairman of Dundee University court; and Sir David Smith, president of Wolfson College, Oxford, and former principal of Edinburgh University.

The most controversial aspect of the report is likely to be its suggestion that students pay part of their course fees and that a funding council covering further as well as higher education should steer the direction of institutions as well as finance them.

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