Parents' views must be heard

24th April 2009 at 01:00

We welcome last week's announcement from Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop that the Scottish Government supports the creation of a new national body to give parents a stronger voice on education issues.

The Scottish Consumer Council, one of our predecessor organisations, first raised the need for stronger national representation in 1999, to ensure that the views of all parents (not just those who are members of school-based parent bodies) are represented in education policy and decision-making.

A decade on from that original research, we remain convinced that Scottish parents need a new national body. Ironically, the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 has led to less national representation as the two existing bodies fight for membership, and schools and local authorities are unclear about which body to join.

A strong, adequately-funded, national body would be able to conduct robust research to ensure that parents' interests are identified correctly and that policy development reflects their needs. It would be able to support the development of parent councils by offering advice and information and by sharing best practice. And it would be able to provide information to parents on how to navigate the education system, something which is particularly important as we are about to go through a period of significant change to the curriculum.

The views of parents must be heard - and heard loudly - when decisions are being made which affect the education of their children.

Jennifer Wallace, senior policy advocate, Consumer Focus Scotland, Queen Street, Glasgow.

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