Parents left on the sidelines

20th May 2011 at 01:00

As the Scottish membership organisation for parents' groups, SPTC hears daily from parents who have concerns relating to their child, their school, their education authority or wider education policy. There is, however, an emerging trend which worries us more than any other: the shelving of parental consultation where material changes to services are planned.

Parents are telling us about schools losing teachers and support staff; retiring headteachers being replaced without a recruitment process which includes parents; physical changes to school buildings and uses, which directly impact on the operation of the school. The list of examples is too long to recite.

At a time when we all know there must be radical thinking about how education is delivered, why are parents being so widely cut out of the process? The active support of parents is important to schools generally and children particularly, yet we see resistance to true parental involvement at every level in the system.

Parental involvement is held up as a principle and an ideal, yet we know both the letter and the spirit of the Parental Involvement Act are being disregarded. Parents continue to be treated as a fundraising machine and parent councils as a rubber stamp for local authority and school policy, not as active partners in the education process.

We believe local government needs to stop and think - and central government needs to take action to stop this erosion.

Eileen Prior, Executive director, Scottish Parent Teacher Council.

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