Boards continue to fight for a role

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
On the eve of publication of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill, one of the main parent bodies has challenged ministers to say why they want to abolish school boards.

Caroline Vass, president of the Scottish School Board Association, said parents and the SSBA remained "puzzled" by Jack McConnell's remarks to the Scottish Parliament earlier this month about the bill.

"He stated that 'existing, successful boards will have improved power', yet in other schools there will be new arrangements. Is this an indictment of school boards or not?" Mrs Vass asked.

"And if so, then why is this good practice not being rolled out, rather than the School Board Act being repealed?"

Mrs Vass also repeated the SSBA's concerns about the point of the consultation exercise on parental involvement. About 1,000 individuals and organisations had responded and she called on the Scottish Executive to demonstrate it had listened by making changes to the draft bill.

"I will be very disappointed if there are not quite a few changes," Mrs Vass said.

One significant change from the bill's draft form has already been trailed by the First Minister. Mr McConnell announced that there would be new powers that allowed parents to call in HMIE if they have serious concerns about the running of a school.

But Mrs Vass said that she saw that option as "a last resort" which parents would not particularly want to use.

The SSBA is to host a reception for MSPs, education professionals and school board members on September 28 - the evening before publication of the bill - to lobby opinion before the legislation goes before parliament.

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