Supporting all parents' views

17th January 2003 at 00:00
I must correct Alan Smith over several errors in his recent letter on the Banks review of school boards.

First, I said that the review was necessary and accurate, not a waste of time.

Second, I became a director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council on November 9. This was well after Banks reported so I had no input to the consultation. My point was that very few parents did.

Third, my long school board experience and service on the Scottish School Board Association executive was relevant in the context, but I was writing about the lack of vision or strategy I found in Banks's report not the national parents' organisations.

Fourth, I wrote nothing about boards being unable to work with parent teacher associations. Indeed the legislation requires that a board supports its PTA of which parental membership is automatic; ergo the board is also the PTA, but with legal clout, vested in the few rather than the many.

I agree with Alan Smith that the legal right to parental involvement is important, but I would like to see it broadened not concentrated. Increasingly boards are filled by co-option rather than election (hardly democratic), and focus groups need not be under the control of school boards as the national debate illustrated.

I have recently become an SPTC director because I feel that it more frequently raises more issues of importance to the wider parent body than the SSBA, and talks less about itself. I also find it more transparent; clearly listing members and accounts on the website unlike the SSBA.

Finally the SPTC is cost effective with total staff costs considerably less than Ann Hill earns as SSBA chief executive.

The SPTC also keeps a support fund, and invests in developing projects like the safe use of internet services.

Public money pours into SSBA via boards, but I believe it could be better spent to support the involvement of a larger number of parents.

Joanne Beaumont

Kelvinside Terrace South

Glasgow

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