Ex-school boards chief admits child porn offences

16th April 2010 at 01:00
A former school boards chief who was a vocal campaigner to retain section 28 on the teaching of homosexuality in schools has been placed on the sex offenders register for downloading child porn

Alan Smith, who was treasurer and later president of the Scottish School Board Association (SSBA) at the height of the section 28 controversy, will be sentenced at Paisley Sheriff Court on May 11.

The 53-year-old admitted distributing indecent photos of children in 2006 and having 4,000 images on his computer at home last year.

Mr Smith, who is married with two children, came to prominence in the now defunct SSBA as a result of chairing the St Andrew's Academy school board in Paisley. He was president of the SSBA for most of the five years until 2005 when he was ousted - because he was "too moderate", he claimed at the time.

Mr Smith then went on to become a director of the Learning Game, an educational training provider which went into liquidation two years ago. Norma Corlette, his former boss there, is reported as saying that none of its staff were allowed to work with children without a member of the school staff being present.

The "keep the clause" campaign was bankrolled by Stagecoach founder Brian Souter in an unsuccessful attempt to retain the ban on discussing homosexuality in schools.

It was fiercely controversial and was an early test of First Minister Donald Dewar's administration in the years immediately after devolution. The Scottish Parliament finally repealed it in June 2000.

Mr Smith was particularly associated with calls to introduce "statutory safeguards" in the teaching of sex education - the fall-back position of opponents of section 28.

A working party headed by Mike McCabe, then South Ayrshire's director of education, came to the rescue with proposals for statutory guidance on sex education which stipulated the importance of "stable family life and relationships".

This was duly incorporated into legislation, which replaced section 28 with section 26 of the Ethical Standards in Public Life (Scotland) Act.

Mr Smith later admitted that "mistakes were made" during the SSBA's involvement in the campaign.

neil.munro@tes.co.uk.

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