We want to be partners;Letter;News amp; Opinion

5th November 1999 at 00:00
IT'S INTERESTING what you learn from the columns of The TES Scotland. I was fascinated to read (October 29) that the Scottish Consumer Council was looking at ways of setting up an independent national parents' body, funded by the Government - which offers an interesting slant on the meaning of "independent".

I was even more interested to learn this week that SCC are developing this in close co-operation with other organisations, including the Scottish School Board Association. It would seem that the independently funded Scottish Parent Teacher Council are the pariahs in all this because we unashamedly represent the partnership view of education.

For us, education is not a matter of parents acting as consumers, whether that's in the "going shopping" sense or in the "public policy" sense. Instead, we see school education as an active partnership between parents and teachers in the interests of pupils.

Unlike other services, whether health or transport, parents, who are the focus of SCC's efforts, are not the actual consumers of education. Rather it is the pupils. This becomes increasingly clear as pupils emerge from school to become students at college or university and are suddenly told that, as the chief beneficiaries of their education, they have to contribute to the costs of it.

Parents and teachers each have a certain responsibility for school pupils and that responsibility changes as the pupils themselves grow and take on a greater share. What is essential is that there is good dialogue between parents and teachers over this shared responsibility and it is this dialogue which SPTC hopes to represent.

It's interesting to see this sudden push for a parents-only body just as European parents' organisations, who have long viewed our involvement with teachers with deep suspicion, are discovering for themselves the benefits of partnership.

Judith Gillespie Development Manager Scottish Parent Teacher Council Edinburgh

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