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All the facts they need;Letter

WE WERE taken aback by the response of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council to our report about the need for independent advice for parents (TESS, May 21).

Judith Gillespie is quoted as being "sceptical" about the need for advice for parents, and she reportedly takes the view that parents will eventually find sources of advice if they are "that desperate". Judith was on our advisory group for this project, and we are sorry that she did not raise these concerns with us before. We also find the comments rather defensive and negative about change.

The Scottish Consumer Council's work on advice for parents has been prompted by parents themselves who have experienced difficulties because of a lack of decent independent advice. In our view advice for parents can help resolve problems early and sensibly as they arise.

It can stop problems getting out of proportion. It can clarify the responsibilities of parents and others in the education of their children.

But advice is not just about problem-solving. It can be about giving a whole range of information and also signposting to self-help groups and other resources. It is about equipping parents to make responsible decisions about their children's education.

Independent advice has a key role in helping people make the best decisions, and where there are problems it can prevent these from getting out of hand. We know that the SPTC does excellent work on advising PTAs and other groups on the issues in education. It is not equipped to offer an advice service to individual parents.

We hope that on further reflection the SPTC will feel able to be more supportive of the need we have identified. We know that many parents and parent members of PTAs are.

The next stage of our research is to carry out further work with parents and young people, to find out more about their experiences and views in this area. This evidence-based approach is at the heart of the Scottish Consumer Council's work.

Jackie Welsh Policy manager Scottish Consumer Council Glasgow.

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