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Schools backed by nearly all parents

POLITICAL and media pundits who continually knock the education system have suffered a setback after a telephone survey of 1,000 parents confirmed that more than nine out of 10 supported schools.

The poll was carried out by System Three, for the Scottish Consumer Council.

Half the parents were very satisfied and another 43 per cent fairly satisfied with their children's schools, confirming conclusions from several studies over the past 15 years. Opinions gathered during the national debate on education also confirmed general confidence in the work of teachers and the comprehensive system, despite calls for reform.

Ministers grappling with an amended system of parent involvement, perhaps trying to integrate school boards with parentteacher associations, can mull over the finding that 85 per cent are very satisfied or satisfied with the mech-anisms for representing their views.

In contrast, only 49 per cent of parents felt their views were adequately reflected at national level.

One in five parents want more involvement, especially in the first two years of secondary. At present, only one in 10 is involved in some way in a board, parent teacher association or parent association with those in poorer and rural communities less likely to take part.

Morag Brown, SCC policy manager, told the Scottish School Board Association's annual conference in Perth last weekend that parents were often put off by the formality of schools and saw them as inaccessible.

Some 81 per cent would back open days once every three months and 69 per cent drop-in or appointment systems, such as that at St Paul's High in Glasgow highlighted by The TES Scotland.

Overall, parents were positive about the quality of provision, although they continue to complain about the pressures on children from studying too many subjects, especially in S3 and S4.

Ms Brown said that the latest findings, based on telephone interviews, echoed previous consumer council studies.

* Ann Hill, SSBA chief executive, who has issued a grievance against her employers and is being sidelined by the executive, was not at last weekend's conference, the first time in 12 years since the organisation was formed by her enthusiasm in Dumfries and Galloway, where it is still based.

Mrs Hill is officially off sick.

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