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Man with a mission

An independent consultant has been appointed to "facilitate" the creation of a new national parents' body.

Greg Brown, who was a secondary teacher and is a parent and furniture-maker, has worked for many years with tenants' groups and recently helped them set up their own associations, following the transfer of council housing stock.

Mr Brown will meet the main parent bodies in Scotland, the Scottish School Board Association and Scottish Parent Teacher Council, as well as education authorities and voluntary sector groups such as Children in Scotland.

His mission will be to look at the issues involved in setting up a national body to represent, support and advise parent councils. He will be expected to report back to ministers by the end of January, and they may decide to hold further consultations on his recommendations.

One of the trickiest issues for a future national representative body will be how it is funded. In its original proposal for a national parents' body, the Scottish Consumer Council looked at a fully-funded option, but it has also commended a mixed-funding approach. The SPTC has already warned that a parents' body funded directly by the executive might lack independence. The SSBA's main source of funding is its training, while the SPTC's is its income from selling public liability insurance cover to its member parent teacher associations.

In this, the interim year before the setting up of the new parent councils in 2007, heads and teachers will be urged to build on their current work in involving parents in their children's education.

A toolkit has been distributed by the executive offering guidance on some potential models. Their formats will vary from school to school - but one of the tasks of the new body will be to find the mechanisms and frameworks that allow it to represent a diversity of views and priorities.

The executive is also understood to be keen that the new national body will carry out research on parental views and perspectives.

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