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Parents' group 'has lost respect'

Two vice-presidents of the troubled national parents' association this week claimed it had lost the respect of the education world and could no longer represent ordinary parents.

Sheila Naybour and Pat Clark told The TES that a new council for parents with clear links to governing bodies should be set up.

"Such a voice will need to be free from taint and intrigue, a genuinely open and consultative network that permeates all schools and local education authorities."

They spoke after a meeting of the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations at the weekend which discussed the highly-critical results of a Charity Commission investigation.

Mrs Naybour, a former NCPTA press officer, was barred from the meeting in Birmingham at which police were on the door. West Midlands police said they had been warned of a likely breach of the peace.

In a letter to The TES this week, the two vice-presidents claimed: "A parents' council is necessary. The voice of parents cannot be heard from the NCPTA. "

Meanwhile Christina Muspratt, a co-opted trustee, claimed she had been advised to resign.

Mrs Muspratt, a PTA member for more than 20 years, is chair of governors at the Wirral Hospital school run by Ian Price, the ex-NCPTA chair criticised by the commission.

She said she was seen as "being on the side" of Sean Rogers and Sandi Marshall, former trustees who were removed after instigating the Charity Commission inquiry.

"I was told by a couple of trustees that it might be better if I resigned, because I was clearly out of step with everyone else," said Mrs Muspratt. She attended last weekend's meeting at which the commission's report, which accused the charity of running up large hotel bills and high expenses, was discussed publicly for the first time.

At least five people, including Mrs Naybour and Ms Marshall, were barred from the meeting. They were later granted entry after a vote but not allowed to speak.

Ms Marshall, who had been delegated to attend by two Devon schools, said: "I thought it was distasteful, it showed a complete lack of judgment and a paranoia that beggars belief."

West Midlands Police said: "We were aware of the meeting. Officers in the area attended where they found tempers were flaring. They calmed the situation down."

The meeting came after the commission ruled that three key officers - Margaret Morrissey, press officer, Andrew Smetham, treasurer, and Belinda Yaxley, membership secretary - could keep their jobs.

It had previously said that the three may have benefited from positions of trust in getting their jobs and that they should resign and pay back thousands of pounds' salary.

But on Friday the commission said: "We have authorised the continued employment of the three appointed officers of the NCPTA. Each of them had applied for their post while they were still trustees of the charity. It was our legal opinion that their appointments were therefore invalid.

"The trustees of the NCPTA accepted our view and applied to us to authorise the continued employment of the three. Having fully considered the case made to us we have decided to issue the authorisation as requested."

Judith Wood, NCPTA chair, said: "I am absolutely delighted that Margaret Morrissey, Belinda Yaxley and Andrew Smetham have been completely exonerated. "

She said she had not called the police. They asked if she needed assistance, after "witnessing some offensive behaviour".

Mrs Wood said people were excluded from the meeting because they had not followed the correct booking procedure.

Letters, page 25

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