Our existing parent-teacher network can be put right

28th November 1997 at 00:00
I attended the open meeting of the National Confederation of Parent- Teacher Associations in Birmingham on November 8. As a spectator sport, the debate bore many similarities to gladiatorial combat without the blood. As the delegate next to me put it, "If they were children, they would be told off for being so petty!" Having reflected on the meeting, it does seem that both your article and the letter from Sheila Naybour and Pat Clark (TES, November 14) paint an over-pessimistic picture of the future of the NCPTA.

The confederation has obviously had great problems over the past few years, many of them self-inflicted. On the other hand, after an initial frosty and somewhat defensive response to the report from the Charity Commission, the present trustees have worked hard to meet the 34 recommendations given in the report. They have a will to move forward. Many of the difficulties of the meeting on November 8 stemmed from the desire of some delegates to continue to fight old battles rather than to look to the future.

The confederation has great strengths; it has a strong membership and is financially very sound. As long as it takes swift action to overcome its present problems, I see no reason why it should not prosper. Three obvious issues it must face are: * the appointment of a new chief executive; * serious consideration to changing to an organisation to represent the voice of parents only rather than that of parents and teachers; * the need for those trustees most involved in the current dispute to step down as soon as possible. No matter how blameless they may be, their continued presence will only prolong the bitterness of the argument.

ANDREW BAMFORD

Weston Coyney junior school Stoke-on-Trent Staffordshire

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