Beware parent 'super league'

A warning that some parents may have too much influence was issued at the weekend by the director of the Scottish Initiative on Attendance, Absence and Attainment.

Cameron Munro told a conference at St Machar Academy, Aberdeen: "We are in danger of creating a premier league of parents who have access to key policy-makers."

He recalled the parent group on the curriculum set up by the former Strathclyde Region which had acted as a "sounding board", avoiding the charge of being unrepresentative. "It is the impact the individual parent is making day to day with their child that matters and how they can work together with the local school," Mr Munro said. "Politicians also need to deal in realities and avoid the run for the quick fix on the parental issue."

Scottish Office ministers have proposed legally binding agreements with parents but Mr Munro warned: "We are running the risk of believing that the home-school divide can be resolved by signing a home-school contract."

His plea was endorsed this week by Stirling, which announced it is to consult on the future shape of parental involvement. Officials are proposing the establishment of a Strathclyde-style consultative forum for parents which would meet once a term and act as "a sounding board for the director of education. " An annual parents' conference would be held each September.

A paper approved by the council's children's committee yesterday (Thursday) aims to involve parents in their child's learning and set up consultative mechanisms. Officials stressed that the council's approach was intended to cover "every parent, every child".

Perth and Kinross also agreed this week to set up an annual parent forum as part of a wide-ranging review which includes steps to improve communication with staff and pupils. School board chairpersons would also meet council education leaders twice a year.

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