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THE education advisers in conference (page six) angrily turned down a 15.7 per cent pay offer over three years but they have no say in what happens next. All they could do is recommend rejection to those of their members who belong to the Educational Institute of Scotland. It does the negotiating on behalf of all advisers and is balloting on an offer which the advisers' association claims has sold them down the river.

At immediate issue is whether the EIS was more concerned with keeping away from the negotiating table the organisations directly representing advisers, psychologists and music instructors (the groups ignored in the McCrone settlement) than with achieving the best outcome for these minority interests. The local authority employers will be relieved not to be the demons.

Yet at issue remains the future role of advisers. It will have to be settled over the next two years through the post-McCrone "job sizing" exercise. Advisers say they are teachers, which is as important in how they want to be perceived by classroom colleagues as in how their pay is calculated. The employers see them as part of the quality control apparatus.

Before too long all advisers may find themselves on the bottom rung of education directorates. That at least would stop them being at the EIS's mercy.

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