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Edinburgh parents slam SSBA

THE troubled Scottish School Board Association, which meets in Perth tomorrow (Saturday) for its annual conference, has been attacked by Edinburgh parents who claim it is irrelevant and offers nothing beyond the services provided by their local authority.

The Banks report on parent involvement, commissioned by the Scottish Executive, has also taken a pasting with accusations of a hidden political agenda.

Most boards in the city opted out of the SSBA following the wrangle over sex education guidelines and the association's close involvement with the controversial campaign by Brian Soutar. They have formed a parents'

consultative committee with back-up from the city council and will meet again next week to discuss the implications of the report by Philip Banks, former senior HMI.

Among a number of submissions, Rona Craig, chair of East Craigs primary board, reminds parents that the SSBA does not speak for all boards: "We have elected not to join because we feel it does not consult us before expressing an opinion. We also prefer the higher standard of support offered by the authority."

Karen Traill, a board chair for seven years, stated: "The SSBA does not offer services or information that we do not receive from our local authority or the Scottish Executive. I had the opportunity to attend an SSBA training course, hosted by the school board unit, and it was superior to the Edinburgh training."

Mark Irvine, a Boroughmuir High parent and former union official, comments:

"The SSBA might well do a lot of good work (who knows?) but may as well be based in Baghdad for all its relevance to ordinary people."

Mrs Craig accuses the Banks report of an attempt to link boards to policy-making. "This is of great concern as school boards have stated quite clearly they think this is neither desirable nor appropriate," she states.

Parents and board members are "quite happy with the ways their schools are managed".

ScotlandPlus, pages 2-3

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