Abuse proves a job well done

15th May 2009 at 01:00
Judith Gillespie, Scottish Parent Teacher Council

Brian Monteith's article on parents' views (May 1) gives a clear insight into the role of parents in Scottish education. It is hard to imagine him writing, or The TESS printing, an article on teacher representation that criticised the lead officer of a teachers' union for being "super-charged, superannuated and long out of the classroom" - yet, apparently, it is witty (and "it was only a joke" is the standard defence of all bullies) to write in such terms about me, an official of a parents' organisation.

This reveals just how far down the education pecking order parents come. Governments only "discover" parents when they think they can harness their support for some pet policy. With Michael Forsyth, it was for opted-out schools; with the current Government, it is for delivering A Curriculum for Excellence.

However, parents are expected to know their place, do as they are bid and have no role in decision-making. So, not only are they not on the ACfE management board, but also a government-paid employee represents them on the stakeholders group of ACfE and the Scottish Qualifications Authority has just axed the parent position on its board.

For my part, I have a very high regard for all parents. I have always argued that they deserve to be dealt with honestly and given proper information. I have done my best to represent their interests for the past 20 years, and the fact that I have annoyed Brian Monteith suggests that I have done this well enough.

Finally, to set the record straight, I will never be superannuated. I will get no pension from the Scottish Parent Teacher Council and, because I worked so long in a voluntary capacity, I will get only a reduced state pension. The moral is: never volunteer or get old, because all you will earn is abuse.

Judith Gillespie, development manager, Scottish Parent Teacher Council, Edinburgh.

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