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Bellyache over consumer council 'mince'

A running wrangle between the Scottish Consumer Council and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council has flared again after the SCC floated a suggestion that volunteers from a school board become parent information officers for a school or cluster. Judith Gillespie, the SPTC's development manager, described the idea as "mince".

Mrs Gillespie said the finding that parents need more advice on education and their child's school stems from a focus group study of only 37 parents by the Scottish Council for Research in Education. It admits the need for a wider study.

"If they want to ask the same misleading questions they come up with the same misleading answers," Mrs Gillespie said. "If you take the idea for an information officer, nobody on a school board would have the time to take that on."

She added: "The consumer council would have been better served publicising the Parent Zone website that already offers information."

Other suggestions include greater publicity about independent sources of advice, more information in the school prospectus and an independent mediator for complaints.

Graeme Millar, the consumer council's chairman, said: "There are clearly serious gaps in the provision of independent advice as this research indicates."

A key area is special educational needs. "Parents may still feel frustrated by the lack of impartial advice and support," the researchers note.

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