Page last updated at 10:45 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 11:45 UK

Consultation labelled 'confusing'

Children in classroom
The document includes plans to cut the number of head teachers

Scottish Borders Council has been accused of producing a "confusing" document on controversial changes to education, arts and social services.

The Transforming Children's Services consultation paper is only available on the web and contains 150 appendices, with a 44-page long summary.

The Campaign for Plain English has criticised the paper, which some parents claim is deliberately long.

A spokeswoman from the local authority said it was considering the complaints.

The Transforming Children's Services consultation includes plans for primary schools to share headteachers, and for the merger of two Catholic schools.

Some parents have claimed some contentious proposals have been "buried" deep within the document.

One parent told BBC Scotland: "It is almost as if the review has been written deliberately long-winded to put parents off reading it."

"Daunting"

Marie Clair, spokeswoman for the Plain English Campaign, said the document was "daunting" for parents who were expected to make a decision.

She said: "We have worked with another part of the council, Revenue and Benefits, and they have done very good work. Clearly they [the council] have a recognition of the need to use plain English. But where they've gone a miss, is in sending out this overview of the consultation document.

"Yes, it is simplified in relation to the other document, but there's still a long way to go."

She said more time and resources should have been spent on producing the paper.

She added: "If you put out a confused question, you'll get a confused answer."

The council was also criticised for only producing the paper online, after complaints the lengthy document was difficult to read on a computer.

A spokeswoman from the council said copies had not been printed for environmental reasons.

She said: "Scottish Borders Council is committed to ensuring that all or our publications are accessible.

"However, we recognise that we do not always get it right. We will be considering the comments made by the Plain English Campaign and we will continue to find ways to make improvements in the future."

The consultation on the document was due to end on Monday, 27 October, but it is hoped the deadline would be extended.


SEE ALSO
Council plans shared school heads
19 Jun 08 |  South of Scotland

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