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A lousy way to have a Ball at Banchory

Every school has a problem with head lice from time to time, but not all see the nit as the key to improving parental involvement.

In the case of Banchory primary in Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, it was the issue that bonded parents and school and led to the creation of a self-help group - Banchory Against Live Lice (Ball).

After all, if you can overcome the embarrassment of talking about an infestation of head lice, you can discuss just about anything else.

John Harley, headteacher of Banchory primary, said: "We have not had a school board in here, so that has been quite difficult. We have only had a nursery for the past five years but we have formed a nursery consultation committee and hope to extend that out."

Mr Harley added: "There is a national problem with head lice, so we decided to focus on some solutions and solve the problem. We worked with the public health nurse to do some training with parents - and the parents have taken the role over."

The parents' group has now become the contact for head lice problems through the home-school liaison officer, Heather Longmuir. Parents can get advice or even inspections of their children's heads by trained members of Ball. Other parents may simply need reassurance.

Lizzie Harper, who has a son in P5 and a daughter in nursery, is one of the most active members. She also helps out in the nursery. "A lot of parents were hiding the fact that their children had head lice," she said, which led to the problem being perpetuated.

"When we started the group it brought two or three different things out.

It's opened the subject up - nothing's embarrassing about it now."

Ms Longmuir, who trained as a nursery nurse, said that there was only so much that she and the public health nurse, Sylvia Lynn, could do on their own. Parents had to take action themselves.

Head lice have not been expelled permanently from Banchory primary, but the problem is under control. Ball has now set up links with other local schools and parents so that it can pass on advice to them.

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