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School councils, not legislation

DURING the report stage of the School Standards and Framework Bill last week an amendment that would enable governing bodies to "facilitate and give reasonable assistance to parents who wish to establish an organisation within the school to represent parents" was rejected by the Government on the grounds that there is no need "to formalise the school-parent relationship through legislation" because "legislation is not the best way to deal with that kind of relationship".

This is a point many of us have been making in relation to home-school agreements. Baroness Blackstone said that the Government does not "believe that this is the appropriate time to place an additional statutory requirement on governing bodies". It would be far less onerous and more likely to achieve the Government's stated commitment "to working with parents and to improving parental participation in their children's schools" to enable governing bodies to help parents set up an association than requiring them to draw up home-school agreements and ensure parents sign them.

In schools where such an association exists it makes it far easier for the governing body to consult with parents and for parents to work together. If we are to have real partnerships, which are a key feature of successful schools then each school needs to have a school council as well so that children and young people can also be consulted and express their views.

Melian Mansfield. Campaign for State Education. Weston Park. London N8

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