Parents slate ‘jargon-laden’ consultation over schools

Parents slate ‘jargon-laden’ consultation over schools
Herald Scotland, by Andrew Denholm


Parents have attacked a “jargon laden” Government consultation intended to engage them in the running of Scottish schools.


Families said the questions were “impenetrable” and also questioned the short timescale of the exercise, which is set to close in early January.


The criticisms come after the Scottish Government launched a consultation on changes to the way schools are governed that seeks to place more decisions in the hands of headteachers, teachers and parents.


Read more: Westminster could unilaterally axe devolved laws post-Brexit, expert warns


Ministers want to bring forward legislation in 2017 to enshrine the changes in law.


In a foreword to the consultation Education Secretary John Swinney said the changes were to ensure decisions about children’s learning were taken as close as possible to local communities.


However, following a meeting of Glasgow parents to discuss the consultation, attended by Government officials, concerns have been raised about the wording of the questions.


One asks: “What are the barriers within the current governance arrangements to achieving the vision of excellence and equity for all?”


Another states: “How can effective collaboration amongst teachers and practitioners be further encouraged and incentivised?”


A third asks: “How should governance support teacher education and professional learning in order to build the professional capacity we need?”


Read more: Westminster could unilaterally axe devolved laws post-Brexit, expert warns


A parent of two primary aged children who attended the Glasgow meeting said the consultation appeared designed to disengage parents.


She added: “The questions are completely impenetrable to your average parent, who doesn’t have an in-depth understanding of current school governance.


“I appreciate the aim that parents should be involved in decision-making, but I am unable to answer these questions because I do not have sufficient knowledge of the current system.


“The questions are so technical and open-ended they are impossible to answer without an in-depth of knowledge of the current state of school governance that no parent possesses unless they are employed in the sector.”


Another Glasgow parent said: “Parents have expressed concern the document does not explain the current structures so parents do not feel qualified to propose changes and the timescale is too short.


Read more: Westminster could unilaterally axe devolved laws post-Brexit, expert warns


“The document is filled with jargon and abstract concepts and, as a result, will attract answers only from those already in the system.”


Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, called on the Government to provide better information and allow more time for parents to respond.


She said: “Scottish education is full of jargon and there has been no attempt to remove or adapt it in these consultation documents.


“The other big challenge is consultations should not expect people to have full and detailed knowledge of the subject, but it seems this one takes it for granted parents know how the education system works now. “