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Mr Parent takes on silent schools

"I can go on to the Internet and find out what children in Oregon are going to be doing for the next six weeks. But I don't know what my daughter will be doing at school for the next week."

Cameron Munro, director of the Scottish Initiative on Attendance, Absence and Attainment, told the conference of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council in Glasgow that schools should do more to inform parents about projects and topics being taught so they could make their own contributions.

"If we really believe in making learning effective we need to start talking about it," Mr Munro said. A simple task such as making a cake involved language, understanding instructions and measurement.

Mr Munro, known as "Mr Parent" when he was the former Strathclyde Region's development officer for parents, said that politicians talked of parent partnership and compacts. But the reason for the interest had to be questioned. "Why are we working with parents? Is it just to drive the policy-makers' agenda or is there a real sense of listening to people?" Parents contributed much to schools although often relegated to menial tasks such as class helpers. There had to be more communication and less jargon, he said.

Ann Martin, a parent representative from Cornton primary, Stirling, welcomed Mr Munro's commitment and said: "I remember going home after visiting the school and thinking I was public enemy number one. It's good to hear other parents say that their schools don't let them get involved. I feel able now to go back and speak to all the teachers about what I can do."

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