Running scared of parents' views

22nd April 2005 at 01:00
The letter from Caroline Vass in last week's issue is so personally vitriolic, I feel obliged to reply. However, it is significant that she has chosen to attack me in this way rather than refute my arguments of, yes, April 1. I assume this is because she cannot refute my accurate vision of parent forums as proposed in the Parental Involvement Bill.

What we are being offered is not moaning parent talking-shops, to borrow from Ms Vass, but properly constituted committees that may vary from school to school rather than being micro-managed from the centre.

So, whereas at present a primary school of 600 is required to have the exact same format of school board as a secondary school of 600, under the new scheme the two committees could be different to take account of particular circumstances.

Whereas at present a school of 600 pupils only has five parents on the board so cannot have a representative from each year group, under the new proposals parents might decide to increase the number of parental representatives just precisely so that they can include a parent from each year.

Whereas at present there is no formal link between the school board and PTA -although in many schools such a link has been developed informally - under the new proposals it would be possible to write such a link into the constitution.

In small schools, where it is often hard to find sufficient parents to run two parent bodies, it will be possible under the present proposals to develop a hybrid body that incorporates the best of both.

This Bill offers parents the chance to design and take ownership of the form of representation in their school. It also, critically, allows parents to change that format as their circumstances change. What on earth is there about these proposals that has so frightened everyone at the Scottish School Board Association?

I have devoted the past 20 years of my life to promoting parents' views.

Because of this, I have every confidence that parents are well capable of devising sensible and suitable forums for their own schools.

Judith Gillespie

Development manager

Scottish Parent Teacher Council

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