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Who will speak up for parents?

It has always been difficult to find a truly representative parental voice, if for no other reason than the fact that parents are as amorphous and transient a group as their children. Inevitably, the two parental bodies in Scottish education - the Scottish School Board Association and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council - have tended to be dominated by a small coterie who have themselves become almost "professional" education experts by dint of long service.

The Scottish Consumer Council's proposal this week for a new national parent body therefore is no surprise. Last summer, The TESS reported that the SCC was in discussion with Peter Peacock. Leaving aside suspicions that it would suit the Scottish Executive very well to have a new parental body to deal with instead of the SSBA and SPTC - both of which have been a thorn in the government's side, for different reasons - it is not clear that the SCC's vision for a new parental forum would meet concerns about parental representation.

Would a stand-alone voluntary organisation be any more representative of the hard-to-reach, uninvolved parents than the SSBA or SPTC? Alternatively, would a parental body funded by the Scottish Executive to the likely tune of Pounds 550,000 have the necessary teeth and independence to criticise government policy? Battle lines have been drawn with, almost uniquely, the SPTC and SSBA on the same opposing side. It could yet turn into a messy fight.

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