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The silent service stirs

Education advisers are growing restless, reports Elizabeth Buie from their annual conference

The Association of Educational Advisers in Scotland has voted to change its name and widen its membership in recognition of advisers' changing role in education authorities.

A show of hands at the association's annual meeting in Carnoustie at the weekend transformed the AEAS into the AEDIPS - the Association of Educational Development and Improvement Professionals in Scotland.

Membership will be open to all local authority quality improvement officers and curriculum development officers and will include secondees, consultants, temporary and permanent staff and retired staff working across all sectors of education.

However, a suggestion that membership should be open to members of HMIE and staff working in teacher education institutions was rejected.

Members will be balloted on a new "statement of commitment", setting out their professional responsibilities.

Tommy Docherty, the association's president, told the conference that advisers had been virtually invisible in recent education debates and had to adopt a higher profile.

Some members are still not being paid their correct salaries under the teachers' agreement. Mr Docherty said that he had tried to raise this and other issues with the Education Minister, but to no avail.

"Neither the minister nor his civil servants seem to realise we exist, never mind realise the vital role we play in school improvement. In 2001, when Jack McConnell was Education Minister, he extolled our virtues in securing improvement in schools," Mr Docherty said.

Since then the association had been overlooked by ministers and civil servants.

Mr Docherty said: "I am now inclined to write to the First Minister himself. We have achieved a considerable amount but we need Government to recognise our contribution. We need to be at the centre of things."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: "The Education Minister recognises the importance of all those involved in education and values the contribution that they make."

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