Press Statement : June 15th 2017
The National Parent Forum of Scotland believes in the continuous improvement of our education system. We welcome the overarching principles of today’s announcement, although still remain concerned that there is the potential of disruption to the learning of our children and young people. Greater cooperation and communication are key to ensuring that systems and procedures effectively enhance a child’s learning.
Today our chair, Joanna Murphy said:
“We are extremely pleased that Mr Swinney has announced an intention to consult on amendments to the Parental Involvement Act as part of the forthcoming Education Bill ; we would welcome the introduction of a bill that modernises, extends and strengthens the legislative framework on parental engagement. In particular we welcome the proposal to extend legislation to early years education to reflect Curriculum for Excellence and are equally pleased that Mr Swinney has brought forward proposals to introduce a Home to School link worker to support parents to become engaged. We are interested in learning more detail on this specific proposal in terms of ratios, training and so on.
Formal mechanisms must be put in place (and legislated for), so decisions made by schools are made in statutory consultation with the parent council and wider parent forum. Parents seek better communication between themselves, schools and local authorities. Whilst there is often a duty to consult, this consultation is frequently conducted in an ineffective manner.
We have previously stated that the role of National agencies such as Education Scotland needs to be reconfigured to ensure they better support authorities, schools and parents to raise attainment. We are optimistic that the changes will be to the benefit of our learners.
Parents feel that local authorities are accountable and understand local issues and we are satisfied that this level of local accountability will remain in place.
Devolved school management as it exists is looked favourably upon by parents and we are hopeful that these new plans will build on this. Parents have previously told us they would welcome some changes to recruitment and procurement procedures. Parents have been very clear to us, as Mr Swinney stated today, in their opinion that the main role of teaching staff is to be engaged directly in educating children, and that any changes should be focused on helping teachers carry out this role. However, we are clear that teacher shortages are of grave concern to Scottish parents, and there is a real worry that increased powers to teachers, in particular financial powers, will further exacerbate this situation. We look forward to hearing more detail on the Scottish Government’s plans for workforce planning.
We are pleased that the services to be delivered at a regional level appear to be limited to those that do not involve interaction with parents or members of the public in general and we trust that Mr Swinney will ensure that the parental voice is heard at this level. Parents value the Parental Involvement Officer role in their local authority, it is a vital link that we would not like to see removed or reduced further, and we are interested to hear how they will work with the Regional personnel.
Greater mutual cooperation between Scottish Government and all local authorities is required, regardless of politics, to achieve an effective system that ensures the best possible outcomes for children. “
We look forward to continuing to representing the voice of Scottish parents at a national level and championing parental involvement wherever possible.