SCOTTISH parents do not need much encouragement to reach for their lawyer (page three). They are, after all, better informed than ever. The Scottish Executive has even given them a "parent zone" courtesy of the National Grid for Learning website. The Scottish Consumer Council has just issued The A-Z of Scots Education Law, with helpful sections on finding advice, making a complaint and taking legal action. And just to make sure lawyers are not left twiddling their thumbs, the European Court of Human Rights is always in the background.
The Executive itself has thrown a few legislative bones in the direction of parents, not least in the form of last year's education Act which stipulates that children have a right to education and that they must be consulted on decisions made about them. What Perth and Kinross is discovering is that this combination of litigious parents and straitened resources is lethal.
What is urgently required is for all education authorities to have conciliation and arbitration procedures in place to head off confrontations, not just between parents and individual schools but between parents and the authority. The law should not be the only resort.