Merger talk fails to woo parents

ONE OF the two main parent organisations in Scotland has pulled out of discussions led by a Scottish Executive appointee to pave the way for setting up a national parent body next year.

This casts doubt on the likelihood that the national body will in-volve a merger between the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and the Scottish School Board Association.

The SPTC said this week it felt that Greg Brown, the "facilitator"

appointed last year to lead discussions, had exceeded his remit by trying to engineer a merger of the two groups, and that he had been appointed too early in the process.

"We think that parent councils should be given time to be established before we start talking about a national body," said Judith Gillespie, development manager for the SPTC.

Under the Parental Involvement Act, 2006, school boards will cease to exist on July 31 this year, and the new parent councils take on official status on August 1.

Meanwhile, the SSBA, the national representative body for school board members which also disappears under the legislation, is to hold an extraordinary general meeting on June 4 to ask its members to give it a mandate to carry on in the interim under a new name (the Scottish Parent Council Association).

Caroline Vass, SSBA president, this week released details of a survey of school board members and locally active parents, carried out by Mr Brown and the SSBA, which received only 226 responses from 2,700 papers issued.

It showed that 93 per cent of respondents saw the need for a national body.

A further 83 per cent agreed the SSBA should ensure it remains as the national body, offering its services to parent councils while future options are being considered.

The SPTC's status is unaffected by the new legislation, but its future viability will depend on a sufficient number of parent teacher associations choosing to buy public liability insurance cover from it.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: "The SSBA and SPTC are two separate and distinct organisations and they are independent of us. We couldn't engineer a merger. It will be for the new parent councils to decide whether they want a national body and what form it takes, and new ministers to decide where we go from here."

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