Why do charity's trustees fear an open debate?

14th November 1997 at 00:00
We felt shame for the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations when we attended last Saturday's open meeting and were greeted by a wall of policemen.

They were present at the request of NCPTA to prevent entry to the meeting of five mothers, deemed to constitute a breach of the peace. What on earth have the present trustees to hide that they are so fearful of free speech and open debate?

The recent Charity Commission report and its 34 recommendations were damming. It states that NCPTA has been brought into disrepute. The trustees are accountable to the membership, yet they have failed to provide copies of the report for member schools and avoided the special general meeting required by the commission and agreed at the AGM last May.

They had chosen to arrange this open meeting to discuss the report into the management of the NCPTA. The commissioners have indicated that the power of sanction lies with the corporate members and yet the delegates at this meeting had no decision-making powers.

Your editorial (TES, November 7) "A true partnership" is timely. The teaching profession has clearly recognised that their participation in NCPTA serves little useful purpose: there have been few nominations and no elections for the teacher positions since 1990.

A parents' council is necessary. It would seem sensible to look at the development of a new network. That network would need to be year group and school-based with clear linkage to the governing body. A strong and consistent parental voice can give Government a credible and authoritative account of what parents think.

Such a voice will need to be free from taint and intrigue, a genuinely open and consultative network that permeates all schools and local education authorities. It is with great sadness that we have concluded that the present NCPTA trustees have forfeited the respect of the education world. They had nothing to contribute to the major international partnership conference last week. The voice of parents cannot be heard from NCPTA.

Sheila Naybour Vice-president NCPTA Pat Clark Vice-president NCPTA Tal Goed Pen y Lon Mynydd Isa Mold Flintshire

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