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Education Secretary to scrap school handbook

The Education Secretary has announced plans to scrap the school handbook and replace it with something more parent-friendly.

But the move, which will require secondary legislation by the Scottish Parliament, is unlikely to take place before the Holyrood elections next May.

Michael Russell told the National Parent Forum last weekend that, while the school handbook might have been relevant 10 years ago, it was out-of- date now. "I want you to help redesign that system - what information you need and how you should have it," he told delegates.

The handbook is enshrined in legislation dating back to two education acts in 1980-81 and regulations passed in 1982, which require education authorities to provide specific information to parents each year about their child's school.

Most of the information provided in a school handbook was proscribed and was hard to access by parents, said Mr Russell.

Gerry McTiernan, chair of the National Parent Forum, which was holding its first annual conference, said he had already been in discussions with the Education Secretary. The forum wanted the current format to be replaced by a "parent handbook by parents" which avoided education jargon. He called for future handbooks to drop education acronyms, like CfE for Curriculum for Excellence.

A school handbook should also reflect the personality of the school, Mr McTiernan said.

Eileen Prior, director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said: "Many parents don't even know there is a school handbook and don't possess one, so clearly there is a big gap there. If a school handbook is to have a purpose, parents should know about it and be involved in what goes into it."

Moira Carbery, depute head of Bishopbriggs Academy, where the announcement was made, welcomed the move and suggested that the requirement to provide the minutiae of statistics could be dispensed with.

"We have to include a lot of statutory information which parents have told us they don't read," she said. "I am sure this could be done in a much less expensive way at a time when we are looking more closely at budgets in education."

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