I am amused to note that Joanne Beaumont (TESS last week) thinks that Philip Banks asked the wrong questions in his recent review of support for school boards.
While she did not miss the opportunity of advising that she was once a member of the Scottish School Board Association, she omitted to mention that she is currently a director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, and therefore had the opportunity of meeting Philip Banks, in order to discuss whether or not her organisation supports the elected parents who sit on school boards.
The Banks report found many strengths in school boards and we are now building on these: agreement has already been reached between the education directors and the SSBA on how to increase and widen parental involvement in the education process, and how school boards can be better supported while raising the standard of education for our young people.
I cannot appreciate Joanne Beaumont's reluctance to accept that school boards and PTAs can quite easily work together in supporting schools. Why does it always have to be one or the other? It is very true that not all parents want to be involved in school boards, but it is equally true that many parents do not want to be involved with PTAs either. The real goal is to reach the parents who do not want to be involved in any kind of committee, but who do not mind being involved for a short time on a focus group, e.g. a school board sub-committee set up to improve communication with parents.
Philip Banks highlights the need to retain the democratically elected parent and teacher representation of school boards. After all, we had PTAs for 40 years before school boards came along. The involvement of parents on school boards in the past 14 years has seen an enormous increase in parental participation in the education debate, although we recognise there may be a need to revisit the legislation to broaden their appeal still further.
I just hope that, when consultation with parents takes place on the many issues contained in the Banks report, Dr Beaumont, and any others who share her view that the review was a waste of time, will not waste the opportunity by complaining that they weren't personally consulted.
P.S. I notice that the photograph above Joanne Beaumont's letter of the SSBA chief executive has a caption which asks the question "is she necessary?" As our chief executive is not mentioned in the aforementioned letter, I fail to see the significance of this photograph or question. And for the record - yes, she is necessary.
An apology from the Editor for this very personal attack would not go amiss.
We apologise if any offence was taken. No personal attack was intended. Editor.