Parents given inspection assurance
The new schools inspection framework will give parents "their rightful place" in their child's learning and the improvement of their school, a senior HMI told a national parents' conference last weekend.
Ken Muir, chief inspector of education at Education Scotland, argued that allowing the chair of a parent council access to the confidential inspection report, previously shown only to the headteacher and director of education, would get parents more involved in the school's improvement agenda.
But a number of parents protested against one of the restrictions of the new regulations - that the parent council chair is prohibited from sharing the report with other parents.
They did not understand why the report could not be made available to all parents. And one father complained that merely allowing the chair access to the report did not make the system transparent.
Mr Muir, who was leading a workshop at the National Parent Forum for Scotland annual conference at Bishopbriggs Academy, insisted that the Record of Inspection Findings (RIFs) should be used only to inform a detailed discussion with the headteacher to agree upon an improvement plan in which parents could play a part.
Education Scotland was not attempting to keep inspection reports secret from parents, he said. RIFs often contained huge amounts of detail and jargon.
It was therefore easier to work out goals and ways for parents to contribute to improvement on the basis of a plan developed by the head and the parent council chair.
"A lot of that is highly technical and, with the best will in the world, is maybe not rightly taken on board by parents," said Mr Muir.
Where a school did not have a parent council, inspectors would work closely with the school's parent involvement officer.
Children's Minister Angela Constance is to hold a weekly phone conversation with a parent council chair to hear parental views directly, she told the National Parent Forum for Scotland annual conference.
She stressed the importance of communicating changes to parents clearly - and referred to one of her own experiences as a parent.
When her son had brought home an information leaflet on Curriculum for Excellence, so enraged was she by its quality that she waved it in the face of Education Secretary Michael Russell and asked if he had been aware of its content, she recounted.