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MSPs urged to investigate

The Scottish Parliament should investigate widespread concerns about the McCrone package, Brian Monteith, the Scottish Conservatives' education spokesman, says.

"We would be doing the education sector of Scotland a service if cross-party consensus could be developed to ensure the benefits of McCrone are not lost," he states in a letter to Karen Gillon, Labour convener of the education, culture and sport committee.

Mr Monteith cites concerns about the financial problems of rural authorities, the position of music instructors, probationer teachers, advisers and teachers working only up to their 35-hour limit. "I think it is necessary for an objective review of how well the McCrone settlement is bedding down," he says.

Mr Monteith's plea comes ahead of next week's meeting of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers, which will look at issues on mature students and music instructors - so far unresolved problems that stemmed from the McCrone settlement.

Instructors who belong to the EIS have voted to accept a new pay and conditions deal, although some instructors outside the union remain hostile to the severance of the link to teacher salaries.

Meanwhile the Tory spokesman says that from his mailbag and reports in the press, not least Professor Gavin McCrone's own concerns, it is time for an independent review of progress.

"If there are problems, they need to be identified at an early stage, otherwise the benefits will be lost in acrimonious wrangling between local and central government, and individual teaching groups will become isolated, disadvantaged and discouraged," he argues.

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