Head teachers say there is a rising tide of anger among school leaders over plans to set up parent councils and they are warning that the measure, set out in the White Paper, “Higher Standards, Better Schools for All – More Choice for Parents and Pupils”, could play a part in lowering educational standards.The Council of the National Association of Head Teachers says it is convinced that the vast majority of parents are far more interested in supporting their child at school than being encouraged to form what it has dubbed ‘lynch mobs’.
The Association says it celebrates gains in pupils’ achievements over the past eight years that have seen, for example, 96,000 more 11 year olds acquiring higher mathematical skills and 84,000 more achieving similar levels in English. But it says those gains are not the result of work by the Government but have been brought about by the sheer hard work of school leaders and their teams. In a statement the NAHT Council continued, “We also acclaim the vital role of parents in making these gains. However, we are convinced that the vast majority of parents are far more interested in supporting their child at school than being encouraged to form ‘lynch mobs’ to rid the school of leadership teams struggling to produce high standards in very challenging circumstances.”
The NAHT said it believed parents were far more concerned with the health and well being of their child’s teachers and head teachers than with imposing parent councils on schools, adding another layer of bureaucracy on to management structures. Parents already had a powerful voice on governing bodies and had open access to teachers and senior staff as well as supporting schools through parent-teacher associations.
The Council deplored the accusation in the White Paper that some schools had tried to ‘hide low or mediocre standards’ or had denied parents the right to play a full part in their child’s education. The statement added, “Unless the Government pays more heed to its duty of care towards this nation’s school leaders, it will not stem the flow of senior staff out of the profession, it will not recruit sufficient numbers of people to ensure that every school has a Head Teacher, and it will not have fit and energised teams leading its schools. This situation, coupled with fact that more and more funding is being diverted away from the classroom, will result in lower standards and worse schools for all.
Similar concerns about the proposed Parent Councils were raised by the teaching unions the NUT and NASUWT, which said clear protocols would be needed to manage the relationship between parent councils, governing bodies and head teachers.