Highland this week became the latest education authority to confirm it was purchasing the Phoenix system, rival to the troubled SCETWorks package. Moray signalled it was likely to do the same, particularly if neighbouring Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire opt for Phoenix as seems likely.
Jim Stevenson, Highland's head of resources and support services, said: "We hoped to be able to show SCET some loyalty. But we are now at a point three years into devolved school management when we really had to commit ourselves. "
Moray has put off a final decision pending the results of a test run by one of the council's largest secondaries on the SCETWorks system.
Kevin Gavin, Moray's director of education, commented: "One of the telling factors for us is that everybody round about us is buying into Phoenix which would leave us out on a limb. That would be serious for a small authority in terms of our buying power, receiving technical support and so on. We will take no action until we see the lie of the land but the lie of the land is already looking quite obvious."
The Western Isles has denied reports that it has taken a decision to sign up with SCETWorks. The council is currently investigating that and the Phoenix system, which is produced by the Hampshire-based Scott Reed Associates.
Twelve out of the 20 authorities beyond the former Strathclyde Region, which had developed its own system in preference to SCAMP, have opted for Phoenix: Stirling, Clackmannan, Orkney, Shetland, Dumfries and Galloway, Midlothian, Dundee, Fife, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Highland and Borders. Edinburgh expects to take a decision today (Friday).
A replacement for SCAMP has been beset by difficulties. The education authorities understood last November that SCETWorks was about to be issued. But it soon emerged that the SCET was unable to produce its own package and was forced to buy into a partnership with another company to produce a management information system called Key Solutions.