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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
Fears voiced over parents' powers
Classroom - generic
School boards could be replaced by more informal bodies
Parents may lose power to headteachers and local authorities under plans to change the way they are represented, it has been warned.

Ministers are planning to scrap school boards and replace them with more informal groups called forums.

Their aim is to encourage more parents to become involved in schools.

But the Scottish Consumer Council says that parents need a strong new national body if they are to help shape education policy.

In a discussion document, it proposes the creation of a professionally-run organisation which speaks for parents.

The watchdog believes this will make it easier for Scotland's 1.25 million parents to challenge education experts.

No one wants to be part of a talking shop that can shout loudly but actually achieves nothing
Iain McMenemy
Bannockburn Primary School board
The consumer council also fears that the Scottish Executive's proposals will give headteachers and education authorities more clout than the current system.

School boards are mainly comprised of parents, but also include teachers and "co-opted" members drawn from local business or the community.

Reacting to the proposals, Iain McMenemy, vice-chairman of the Bannockburn Primary School board in Stirling district, said: "Our biggest fear is that in creating these parent forums, the executive will create talking shops by stripping away all the present powers that school boards have.

"This is the worst thing they could possibly do. No one wants to be part of a talking shop that can shout loudly but actually achieves nothing."

The key proposals in the Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill are:

  • Better parental involvement in children's learning

  • More flexible and locally agreed parent forums, replacing school boards

  • Education authorities setting out plans to help parental involvement

  • Modernised selection of headteachers and their deputies.

Consultation on the plans will run until 7 June.

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