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Too independent for comfort

A SEA of headteachers and governors did not prevent a group of senior pupils from dominating the "ask a politician" event organised by the Scottish Council of Independent Schools and sponsored by The TES Scotland.

Instead of being pressed on their attitude to independent education, Donald Gorrie, Brian Monteith, Mary Mulligan and Nicola Sturgeon found themselves arguing about the cost of the new Holyrood building and student tuition fees.

A girl from Craigholme in Glasgow won applause from the heads when she said teachers were more deserving of a pay rise than MSPs. Even the politicians united in agreement that an insupportable anomaly in the post-Cubie deal is the continuing payment of fees y Scots students south of the border. The only discord was on whether to blame the European Union, with Gorrie and Mulligan saying yes, and Monteith and Sturgeon dissenting.

The matter is of significance in the independent sector, although one girl said firmly she is going to an English university, fees or no.

Gorrie recalled a recent by-election "where the Lib Dems did very badly" (no, not Ayr but Hamilton South) at which he had announced that if the coalition did not abolish fees he would give up his MSP's salary. Sturgeon put his self-sacrifice in perspective: "Remember Donald is also an MP. So he would still have had his Westminster salary." "I'm not that daft," replied Gorrie.

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