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Pignatelli urges parent support on school targets

Parents have been warned not to support teachers' opposition to school target-setting out of a feeling of solidarity. Frank Pignatelli, who founded the Strathclyde parents' consultative group on the curriculum when he was the region's director of education, told a conference of the Scottish School Board Association in Glasgow that parents should have their own agenda.

They might say: "If teachers don't want targets, I as a parent want targets." Mr Pignatelli, who has recently become chief executive of Scottish Business in the Community, said parent representatives should not become involved in other people's arguments. "You are not there automatically to support the teachers' case even if it is right to do so in the big picture of backing them in seeking more resources for schools."

He compared school boards with the role of boards in the world of business. Wise non-executive directors followed the advice that "they should not want to run the business but to see it well run" by asking the right questions and challenging assumptions.

"If the headteacher tells the school board that targets are outrageous, don't think it is your job to agree with him. You should press for a debate and fight vigorously for the interests of the children."

Mr Pignatelli, who has developed an Institute of Directors course on getting the best from a board, said parents should learn as much as possible about the curriculum and its management not to show off to teachers but to exert influence where it could count.

David Hutchison, president of the SSBA, told the audience of parent, teacher and community members of boards that in the context of the Government's discussion paper on the role of parents "we are looking at partnerships, not power".

Mike Baughan, chief executive of the Scottish Consultative Council on the Curriculum, said that there should be greater emphasis on the views of parents in curriculum developments.

"All voices need to be listened to," he said.

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