Councillors thwart parent power

26th January 2001 at 00:00
THE role of parents in local education policy is being thwarted in many parts of the country because councillors resent their presence.

More than 300 parent-representatives, elected by parent-governors, have been appointed since last summer. Ministers want them to influence local decisions on education and provide a parental voice on national policy developments.

But Department for Education and Employment officials were forced to reorganise their first national conference, held last week in London, in response to demands for discussions of how best they can fulfil their role.

Suffolk and Derbyshire were praised for a comprehensive support package which treated parents as if they were new councillors. But others complained of lack of support from councils, problems climing expenses, uncertainty about their role and resentment from councillors.

Barbara Parker, from Bolton, said she felt unsupported by her education authority which took three months to send out minutes from a meeting.

Jennifer Brathwaite, from Lambeth, south London, said: "I'm not sure what my role is and how I'm supposed to get across to other parent-governors that I exist and how I'm supposed to support them and help parents in my borough."

Others were finding it hard to get up-to-date on long-running issues about which councillors were already well-informed.

Stephen Jones, from Tameside, said: "They will give you the paperwork but no one will take the time to highlight the pertinent points so that you know what's important."

Governors, 28-29

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