Fundraisers spring to their own defence;Letter

22nd May 1998 at 01:00
AS AN "august body of women", we feel compelled to reply to Hugh Dougherty's article on parental involvement in schools (April 17).

He seems sadly out of touch with reality in respect of the role and functions of the parents' association in his daughter's school. We do not exist simply to think up ever more ridiculous ways of raising money. We endeavour to promote all aspects of education within the school and to promote co-operation between parents and teachers to allow pupils to achieve their full potential.

Unfortunately, this often necessitates the PA becoming involved in fund raising activities - Mr Dougherty himself admits that schools are "continuously strapped" for cash. The cash is often used for what we regard as essential education services and resources. Over the past year the PA funds have been used to provide a new camera and film, art materials, sorting materials, 3D shapes (cones etc), maps, educational games, musical instruments, games equipment, a computer and books.

Mr Dougherty's conclusion that one day "no children were actually being taught anything anywhere in the region" may be a nice, flippant phrase but it again shows how sadly out of touch he really is. It is an insult to all school staff and pupils. Fund raising is a necessary evil in schools but we can assure him that it is not the primary function of our schools. Mr Dougherty himself admits that his daughter was called upon to bounce "for a minute" - surely not an excessive amount of time.

As to the suggestion that parents would do better to spend time on curriculum development rather than on "these excesses", does Mr Dougherty really want the PA to develop teaching and learning materials for use in the school? Would he be happy to have his daughter using curricular resources produced by unqualified non-experts? Teachers in his daughter's schools are all heavily involved in this continuous curriculum development. If they wish to consult with parents on these issues, the school board and the PA happily initiate the process. Rather than take time to attend a PA meeting to make his feelings known, or even write to the PA directly, Mr Dougherty has chosen to pen an ill-informed, caustic article to attack unpaid volunteers. As another "august body", Eleanor Roosevelt, was fond of saying, "it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness".

There is no compulsion on anyone to take part in or support any of our fund raising activities. We look for willing volunteers rather than grudging conscripts. Finally, we are happy to announce to Mr Dougherty and others than the sponsored bounce did go ahead and raised over pound;3,000, which has been used to benefit the educational provision in the school.

Parents' Association St Fillan's Primary, Cathcart, Glasgow

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