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Quango culling shows trust

The two leading educational bodies facing a new future after the announcement by Alex Salmond, the First Minister, on "culling the quangos" were talking the language of opportunity this week.

Bernard McLeary, chief executive of Learning and Teaching Scotland, said: "I don't see any reductions in the functions that LTS provides."

And Matthew MacIver, registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, said the decision to remove its quango status and re-establish it as a standalone body on the same lines as the General Medical Council showed that the Government had "trust in the council and in the teaching profession to be self-regulating". It would enhance the status of teaching and of the GTC.

Although the plans for the council appear clear, the Government has simply said it wants to "examine the role of organisations such as Learning and Teaching Scotland", and Mr McLeary said he has been given no official steer on what the end result of that might be.

But The TESS understands ministers hope to merge LTS with the new Skills Development Scotland, which comes into existence on April 1. Fiona Hyslop, the Education and Lifelong Learning Secretary, has said publicly she intends "bringing focus to the range of public agencies involved in skills and lifelong learning".

The plans for the GTC will require legislation since it is a statutory body, although Mr MacIver said he had not been given a timescale. There will have to be a decision on what to do before December 2009 when the council's four-year term comes to an end.

The Government has six nominees on the 50-member council, and they will be withdrawn. There are no decisions yet on whether the changes will affect the size or functions of GTC Scotland.

The Educational Institute of Scotland says it supports "greater independence for the GTCS, to allow it to continue to develop its vital role in ensuring high professional standards".

It is more cautious about LTS. A spokesman said: "We would expect LTS to continue to provide valuable support to Scottish education, particularly in curricular development and the use of technology to support teaching and learning."

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