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ED/S2/06/R02

2nd Report, 2006 (Session 2)

REMIT AND MEMBERSHIP

REPORT

ANNEXE  A – REPORT FROM SUBORDINATE LEGISLATION COMMITTEE

ANNEXE B – REPORT FROM FINANCE COMMITTEE

ANNEXE C – REPORT FROM MINUTES AND ASSOCIATED ORAL EVIDENCE

Remit and Membership

Remit:

To consider and report on matters relating to school and pre-school education, young people and social work and such other matters as fall within the responsibility of the Minister for Education and Young People.

Membership:

Iain Smith (Convener)
Wendy Alexander
Rosemary Byrne
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Deputy Convener)
Fiona Hyslop
Mr Adam Ingram
Mr Kenneth Macintosh
Mr Frank McAveety
Dr Elaine Murray

Committee Clerking Team:

Clerk to the Committee
Eugene Windsor

Senior Assistant Clerk
Mark Roberts

Assistant Clerk
Ian Cowan

Stage 1 Report on Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

Summary of KEY FINDINGS

General Principles [Paras 151-155]
1. The Committee is fully supportive of the principle of parental involvement in children’s education. It recognises that although many school boards have played a valuable and constructive role over the last 17 years, the system does require modernisation which could not be achieved without primary legislation.

2. Some members of the Committee, although supportive of the aim of raising levels of parental involvement in schools, had doubts that the Bill, if passed, would be effective in achieving this aim. They considered that there were higher current priorities in the education field than those proposed in the Bill.

3. A majority of members of the Committee, however, consider that the Bill is a genuine attempt to introduce a system which is more in tune with recent educational developments, yet sufficiently flexible to meet local needs.

4. There are a number of areas where the Committee considers that the Bill could be improved as the legislation progresses through the Parliament.

5. However, the Committee recommends to the Parliament that the general principles of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill be approved.1

Duty to promote parental involvement [Paras 61-67]
6.The Committee recognises that parental participation in education is critically important. Furthermore, the Committee recognises the role of parental representation in increasing levels of parental participation.

7. The Committee welcomes the duty on Scottish Ministers and education authorities to promote parental involvement but notes that it must extend beyond representation to ensure increased parental participation in education.

Establishment and operation of parent councils [Paras 68-84]
8. The Committee accepts that the proposals in the Bill offer an appropriate degree of flexibility to enable parents in a diverse range of school circumstances across the country to devise arrangements for their parent council which best suit the local needs. However, the Committee recognises that it will be crucial that adequate resources exist within local authorities to ensure that appropriate advice, support and information is made available to parents to enable them to decide what arrangements are most suited to their needs, and to put these arrangements into place.

9. Although the Committee accepts the principle of flexibility, it considers that the guidance that the Scottish Executive is committed to providing will be crucial in informing the work taking place in local authorities to develop the new parent bodies.

10. The Committee also welcomes the commitment in the Policy Memorandum2 that the Scottish Executive is to develop materials to assist effective consultation with parents including materials to support parents in establishing their parent council.

11. Subject to  the above, the Committee welcomes the flexible approach to the establishment and operation of parent councils.

Composition of the parent council [Paras 85-98]
12. The Committee agrees that although parents would always hold the majority of places on a parent council, it would be expected to be the norm that parent councils would have members drawn from the teaching and other staff of the school, pupils of the school, other people drawn from the local community and one or more locally elected councillors. The Committee also supports the continuation into the new arrangements of the ‘strong partnership ethos’ mentioned by Headteachers’ Association of Scotland (HAS) and others.

13. The Committee acknowledges that the under the Bill, arrangements for councillors, pupils and other representatives of the local community to become members of parent councils can be set out in the constitution of the parent council. However, the Committee calls on the Minister to consider whether or not such arrangements should be set out on the face of the Bill.

14. The Committee is content with the proposals in the Bill in respect of the role of the headteacher. The Committee agrees that attendance at a parent council meeting should be both a ‘right and duty’ of headteachers and therefore does not support the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) position.

Functions of parent councils [Paras 99-115]
15. The Committee welcomes the clarification from the Minister that the proposed power to refer to HMIe would be only be exercised when all other options to address the concerns had been exhausted, and believes this should provide reassurance to those witnesses who had concerns about it. The Committee also recommends that further advice on the use of this power be included in guidance.

16. The Committee agrees that it would be inappropriate for parent councils to discuss matters relating to individual pupils or staff, and suggests that it would be helpful for Ministers to issue guidance on this issue.

Senior staff appointment process [Paras 116-132]
17. The Committee acknowledges that modernisation of the appointment procedures is necessary in view of the changes in educational practice and employment legislation which have taken place since the 1988 Act, and that the approach being taken is appropriate and in keeping with the overall flexible approach being adopted in the Bill.

18. The Committee also recognises the concerns that existing school boards have about the lack of detail in the Bill, and understands their fears about a possible diminution of their role. The Committee also recognised the tensions between different views within the professional organisations and trades unions, some of whom favour less prescription from the centre than is being proposed, while others would prefer a standardised approach across the country.

19. However, the Committee is heartened by the statement by the Minister on the importance of meaningful involvement of parents in the appointment process.

20. The Committee welcomes the consultation on this matter, but regrets that this will not be concluded before the Parliament has completed stage 1 of the Bill. The Committee requests that the Executive publish the results of the consultation and its proposed response before the commencement of Stage 2 to allow the Committee to take full account of this during its consideration of the Bill at stage 2.

21. The Committee has also agreed to make representations to the Parliamentary Bureau to the effect that it would prefer the Parliament to agree that the conclusion of stage 2 consideration of the Bill to be timed in such a way that there is time for the Committee to consider the Scottish Executive’s proposals.

22. It is acknowledged by the Committee that it is necessary to consult widely on this matter, but the Committee also considers that it would have been helpful for the Executive to have held the consultation earlier, so that members could have had a clearer idea of the detailed proposals.

23. The Committee is therefore unable to make any recommendation on this part of the Bill.

Other issues [Paras 133-145]
24. The Committee questioned the Minister on this and noted that he wishes to hear the views of the existing national bodies and other organisations before making any decisions on a possible future national parents’ body. The Committee is however heartened to hear the Minister’s view that a strong national body would have ‘a range of benefits’ and that he would be prepared, if necessary, to provide ‘some cash’ to enable such an organisation to be established.

25. The Committee supports the case for a national parents’ body, and recommends that the Scottish Executive facilitates and supports the establishment of such a body.

26. The Committee calls on the Minister to clarify whether or not it is intended that any future national body will be established in such a way as to enable it to pass on charitable donations to individual parent councils in a similar way to which SPTC currently passes such donations to individual PTAs.

27. The Committee notes that the Minister believes these matters can be resolved, and calls on him to provide clarification of the insurance situation under the Bill, ahead of stage 2 consideration.

Miscellaneous matters [Paras 146-150]
28. The Committee has considered the Bill’s Policy Memorandum and concludes that it provides an adequate explanation of policy.

29. The Finance Committee concluded that the Financial Memorandum was adequate. The Education Committee has nothing to add to this, and endorses the Finance Committee report.

30. The Committee endorses the Subordinate Legislation Committee’s report.

31. The Committee considers that consultation on the Bill has been adequate.

The Committee reports to the Parliament as follows—

Introduction

32. The Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill was introduced to the Parliament on 28 September 2005. The Education Committee was designated as the lead Committee at stage 1, and this report presents the views of the Committee on the general principles of the Bill as required under Rules 9.6.1, 9.6.2 and 9.6.3 of the Parliament’s Standing Orders.

THE need for legislative change

33. School Boards came into existence in Scotland under the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988. Currently  97% of Scottish secondary schools and 88% of primary schools have a school board.3 School boards are supported by a national body, the Scottish School Boards Association, (SSBA) whose activities are funded mainly by membership fees.
Many schools also have a Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). These are informal non-statutory organisations in which parents and teachers work together to support the activities of the school, often by fundraising activities. The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) supports PTAs nationally.

34. In 2002, following discussions between the Deputy Minister for Education and Young People and the SSBA regarding support for school boards, the Scottish Executive commissioned a review by independent consultant Philip Banks. The Banks report4 considered that the number of parent members of school boards is too small; election procedures discourage parents from coming forward; the length of service is too inflexible and sub-committees are insufficiently used to widen participation. The report concluded that ‘it could be argued that school boards have been in place a long time and a revision of the style and approach of school boards is entirely appropriate for a new age and anew agenda.’5

35. In January 2003, the Scottish Executive responded to the National Debate on Education6 and committed to increasing levels of parental involvement in schools and to reviewing and reforming the role of Parent Teacher Associations and School Boards. In its Partnership for a Better Scotland agreement, the Scottish Executive made a commitment to ‘work to strengthen the link between parents and schools.’

36. In 2004, the Scottish Executive commissioned George Street Research to examine parents’ views on improving parental involvement. The research aimed particularly to reach the ‘silent majority’ who were reluctant or unable to express their views. The research concluded that the majority of parents had relatively low levels of involvement in schools, particularly in formal activities, and that many viewed the formal structures as intimidating, closed and not necessarily there to seek or represent their views.

37. Research7 conducted by the Scottish Consumer Council and MORI for the Scottish Executive during the development of the Bill indicated that 69% of parents had not been involved in any kind of activity at their children’s school.

39. In his statement on the Scottish Executive’s forthcoming legislative programme on 6 September 2005, the First Minister outlined the rationale behind the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill stating that: “[…] when schools and parents work together, children do better. So we need to reform engagement with parents too. So, in this parliamentary session, we will introduce legislation to provide for a more inclusive and flexible system of parental involvement in schools”.

THE STRUCTURE OF THE BILL

40. Sections 1 to 4 of the Bill place duties on Scottish Ministers and education authorities. The Bill requires education authorities to develop strategies to promote parental involvement in public8 schools. Section 5 of the Bill establishes a two-tier structure with a “parent forum” which includes all parents of pupils in a school and a “parent council” to represent the parent forum. Sections 6 and 7 set out how parent councils will be formed and sections 8 to 11 outline the functions and operations of parent councils.

EVIDENCE

Written evidence

41. The Committee issued a call for written evidence from interested parties on 6 October 2005. In response, it received a total of 60 submissions: 28 from individual school boards, 13 from education authorities, 10 from other organisations and 9 from individuals. The Committee thanks all those who provided written submissions.

Oral evidence

42. The Committee heard oral evidence at four meetings. On 30 November 2005, it took evidence from Jennifer Wallace from the Scottish Consumer Council. At its next meeting, on 7 December 2005, it heard evidence from Alan Blackie from the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, Councillor Ewan Aitken and Anna Fowlie from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Caroline Vass and George Hammersley of the Scottish School Boards Association and Judith Gillespie from the Scottish Parent Teacher Council. On 14 December, the Committee questioned headteachers’ representatives: Lindsay Roy and Bill McGregor from the Headteachers’ Association of Scotland, Gordon Smith from the Association of Headteachers in Scotland and Jack Barnett and Ken Wimbor from the Educational Institute of Scotland. The Committee concluded its oral evidence on 11 January 2006 when it took evidence from Peter Peacock MSP, Minister for Education and Young People and Colin Reeves, Deirdre Watt and Stephanie Walsh, Education Department, Scottish Executive.

KEY THEMES

Consultation

43. The Policy Memorandum notes that in Spring 2004 the Scottish Executive held a series of preliminary discussions with stakeholders including over 100 school board chairs, the SSBA, SPTC, education authorities, teachers’ representative organisations, the Scottish Consumer Council and church and faith groups, on how best to improve parental involvement and representation in schools.

44. Following these discussions, Ministers considered that ‘a more flexible and inclusive system for parental representation was needed.’9 They were concerned that ‘the system of representation set out in the 1988 Act was outdated and restricted parents’ involvement.’ There were particular concerns that restrictions on member numbers for individual school boards allowed only 1% of Scottish parents to serve on a school board at any one time. The option of amending the 1988 Act was considered but as any amendment would also have required primary legislation Ministers decided that ‘new legislation would better achieve an effective long-term framework to support and encourage parental involvement in schools […]’10

45. On 1 March 2005 the Scottish Executive published a consultation paper Making the Difference – improving parents’ involvement in schools: a Consultation on a draft Bill.

46. The Scottish Civic Forum chaired and facilitated twelve formal consultation events, attended by over 400 people across Scotland, during April and May 2005. More than 50 additional events were arranged by local authorities and stakeholder organisations. Ministers and Scottish Executive officials also met with key stakeholders during the consultation period to discuss emerging views, clarify specific points and discuss specific areas of concern. Additionally, 1025 written responses were received. 43% of the responses (and 63% of those from organisations) were from school boards. Of the total, 13% were ‘strongly in favour of the proposals as set out in the bill’11, although 56% supported changes which would in themselves have required primary legislation.

47. The Scottish Executive also commissioned the Scottish Consumer Council to carry out research into parents’ views, after it became apparent that the earlier consultation had not reached many parents other than those who were members of school boards or PTAs.

48. The Bill, when introduced in September 2005, contained a number of changes from the draft Bill that was published along with the consultation document in March 2005.

49. A number of witnesses praised the Scottish Executive’s consultation process. EIS, for example, indicated that it—

‘accepts that the Scottish Executive has consulted effectively and appropriately on the Bill before its introduction to the Parliament.’12

50. COSLA noted in its written submission—

‘We would like to take this formal opportunity to applaud the Scottish Executive’s Education Department on the manner in which this Bill has been developed. We feel that the consultation process has been excellent, and has afforded COSLA and our members a full opportunity to express our views.’13

51. Existing school boards were, however, less happy with the consultation process. The SSBA noted that—

‘Many parents feel that the consultation process was badly handled. The SSBA received many complaints from school boards that they had been unable to obtain a copy of the consultation document from their school. Some of the documents were late in arriving in schools; others seem to have lain in schools with the head teacher and the School Board being unaware of their presence.’14

52. In this case, the Committee commends the Scottish Executive for publishing the Bill in draft form during the consultation, and for amending that draft in the light of some of the comments received in the consultation before introducing the Bill to the Parliament.

53. The Committee concludes that the consultation on the Bill has been adequate.

General views on the Bill

54. The Committee found general support amongst local authorities, teachers’ unions, professional associations and other stakeholder organisations for the principle of increasing parental involvement in children’s education. A number of organisations, however, including some local authorities, were supportive of the current school boards system, and questioned whether the Bill would do very much to increase parental involvement in schools. Some, mainly existing school boards, argued that there was no need to remove school boards, and that the existing system could be modernised instead.

55. COSLA  in its written submission commented—

‘Overall, COSLA welcomes the bulk of changes introduced by the legislation. […] it is fair to say that most of the proposals are sensible, practical, and will effectively contribute to meeting the Bill’s overarching objectives.’15

56. The EIS told the Committee—

‘The Educational Institute of Scotland is very much in favour of the main provisions of the bill. We make it clear that we support the bill essentially because it moves us away from the very bureaucratic, inflexible and pseudo-governance model of parental representation and involvement that is enshrined in the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988. The bill moves us towards a more flexible and inclusive model of parental representation, which we believe will encourage a greater number of parents to become involved in the life of the schools and the education of their children.’16

57. The Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) and Association of Headteachers Scotland (AHTS) also both broadly supported the Bill, but the Headteachers Association of Scotland (HAS) was less convinced. In its written submission it welcomed the intention to enhance the participation of parents and recognised that after seventeen years of operation it was time to review the existing legislation, but it added—

‘HAS believes that there are fundamental flaws in the proposed legislation which run counter to the ethos and culture within Scottish Education - and that the proposed changes, in themselves, will do little or nothing to bring about the desired participation of that section of the parent body who have been disengaged, disaffected or who have felt disenfranchised under the current scheme.’17

58. The bodies representing the current parents’ organisations were split over the Bill. The SPTC were entirely supportive of the Bill’s proposals, telling the Committee in its written submission—

‘We are totally supportive of the principles incorporated in the Bill that is now being considered by the Scottish Parliament.  We welcome the proposals to facilitate parental involvement through parent-friendly bodies and also those changes from the draft Bill that respond to concerns raised during the consultation.’18

59. SSBA took a less positive view of the Bill. Its submission argued—

‘There seems to be little in the Bill itself which will directly lead to improvement in parental involvement. No strategies are given to help deliver this. Members have clearly stated that they object to the principle of the abolition of School Boards. Replacing Boards with Councils will not help parental involvement, nor indeed, remove the barriers to involvement. We believe that the parents who will come forward to be involved in Parent Councils will, in most cases, be the same parents who are presently involved in School Boards.’19

60. The Committee welcomes the views of those who submitted evidence which were extremely helpful to the committee in considering the general principles of the Bill.

Specific issues

Promotion of parental involvement and strategies for parental involvement

61. The Bill provides for a duty on the Scottish Ministers and education authorities to promote the involvement of the parents of pupils in attendance at public schools.

62. The Policy Memorandum explains that Ministers will fulfill the duty ‘by promoting parental involvement generally’ and ‘through specific measures which might include the provision of practical materials intended to help individual parents support their own children or financial support for a new national body to represent parents.’ The duty on education authorities is ‘intended to ensure an active, strategic and joined-up approach to promoting parental involvement across Scotland.’20

63. Local authorities will be required to prepare a ‘strategy for parental involvement’ containing their general policies for implementing their duties. In developing their strategies for parental involvement, local authorities will be required to ‘seek and have regard to’ the views of the parents to whom the duties relate and of any parent councils established in the area.

64. This duty was generally welcomed by witnesses, although there was some uncertainty amongst some witnesses over what the duty might mean in practice. SPTC noted in its written submission—

‘We welcome the fact that there is now a duty on Scottish Ministers, as well as on education authorities, to promote parental involvement. This clearly signals both that parents do have an important role to play in schools, and that the importance of this role is recognised at the highest level’21

65. The Minister for Education and Young People explained—

‘The bill places a duty on education authorities to recognise the importance of parental involvement in the widest sense and to prepare strategies for that involvement. That is a new requirement that we are bringing to bear.

Our wider parental involvement agenda is about enabling parents to do what they can in their specific circumstances to support their children. We want to extend the opportunity for parental involvement not just to those who are comfortable with sitting on committees and representative structures, but to parents who have found involvement in their schools not easy in the past. I recognise that some parents face significant challenges in getting involved in their children's education, which is why the flexibility that we seek in the bill is essential. The emphasis in the bill is on empowering parents, giving local choice and flexibility in the arrangements that are put in place and allowing parents to make decisions without having unnecessary detail in legislation.’22

66. The Committee recognises that parental participation in education is critically important. Furthermore, the Committee recognises the role of parental representation in increasing levels of parental participation. 

67. The Committee welcomes the duty on Scottish Ministers and education authorities to promote parental involvement but notes that it must extend beyond representation to ensure increased parental participation in education.

Establishment and operation of parent forums and parent councils

68. The Bill provides that each school shall have a new statutory body to be known as the ‘parent forum,’ which is ‘intended to to promote a culture of inclusion where every parent belongs, matters and is valued in the school community.’23 Membership of the forum is to be automatic for the parents of every pupil at the school.

69. A parent forum will be able to appoint a parent council to represent it. The Bill is not prescriptive about arrangements for establishment and operation of the parent council. The Policy Memorandum claims that this ‘extends the principles of devolved school management and local decision-making to parental representation, enabling parents to decide how they wish to be represented and how their Parent Council should be constituted.‘ 24

70. The Policy Memorandum goes on to suggest that under the Bill parents will ‘be able to build on the best of their current arrangements – their school board, parent teacher association or other parents or ‘friends’ group – or they will be able to adopt a different model if they choose.’25 As there is no prescribed maximum number of members of the parent council, the new system will, it is claimed, be able to accommodate the involvement of more parents than is possible under the current school board system.

71. There was some criticism of the Bill’s flexibility in respect of the arrangements for the constitution and membership of the parent council. Existing school boards in particular were critical of what were seen by some as vague proposals. The SSBA for example commented in its written submission—

‘We need to have an agreed structure which will be acceptable to both parents and teaching professionals.’26

72. Judith Gillespie of SPTC, on the other hand, told the Committee that ‘one of the strong points of the bill is its flexibility.’27 She later commented further—

‘We need a minimum of prescription. Parents manage very well without it.’28

73. Other organisations generally tended to be fairly relaxed about the flexible proposals in the Bill. ADES told the Committee—

[…] the constitutions and membership of parent councils need flexibility to reflect local circumstances and to recognise the fact that schools vary in pupil numbers, ranging from 10, or even slightly below 10 in some very rural areas, to well over 1,000 or 1,500 in other parts of the country’29

74. The EIS was also in favour of the flexible approach adopted in the Bill. In its written statement it said—

‘It is also important that the nature of the structure to be developed at school level properly reflects the views and wishes of the parent body at that particular school. The Bill, as formulated, does attempt to ensure that parents are as fully involved and consulted as possible on the structure and constitution of the Parent Council and the move away from the top down “centralist” direction is also very welcome. In short, it is no longer acceptable to attempt to dictate from the centre the precise powers and functions of a tiny minority of parents acting as agents of the local authority while ignoring the views, wishes and aspirations of the majority.’30

75. Local authorities were, in the main, supportive of the flexible proposals for the establishment of parent councils, although a number also had concerns over the potential for widely diverse types of bodies to emerge across a local authority and across the country.

76. Glasgow City Council, for example, stated—

‘Given the diverse needs of individual parents, the concept of flexibility is very welcome.  However, the complete lack of structure for Parent Councils is a concern.’31

77. Highland Council took a similar view—

‘In general, the Bill is welcomed.  It retains much of what was appreciated in the School Boards Act as well as good PTA practice, but also incorporates an encouraging degree of flexibility, particularly in relation to constitutions, the removal of the requirement for elections, the option of Combined Parent Councils, and changed appointments procedures for senior school staff.‘32   

78. North Lanarkshire Council noted—

‘The Parent Councils will clearly be more flexible and responsive to local needs than the existing system of School Boards. Therefore, it is very likely that we will see a significant increase in the number of parents taking an active role in the life of the school through Parent Councils.’33

79. Perth and Kinross Council, while welcoming the flexibility in the Bill, also called for clear guidance—

‘The advantages of the proposed system of parental involvement relate mainly to the current election procedures for School Boards.  These currently are cumbersome, too formal and expensive.  This format deters parents from becoming involved in their child’s school and education in many cases and the abolition of the election process is welcomed.  However, a framework for the establishment of Parent Councils would be desirable as this would address the potential for widespread variations in constitutions.  There is also a need for clear guidance and exemplar models to be provided for Local Authorities to assist them in establishing and supporting Parent Councils where required.‘34

80. However, Perth and Kinross Council went on to argue—

‘However, it is felt that the new proposed system also has disadvantages by allowing each Parent Council to decide its own operational arrangements.  This will result in a disparate range of structures and practices.  This may make joint working problematic between clusters, local authority areas and nationally.’35

81. The Committee accepts that the proposals in the Bill offer an appropriate degree of flexibility to enable parents in a diverse range of school circumstances across the country to devise arrangements for their parent council which best suit the local needs. However, the Committee recognises that it will be crucial that adequate resources exist within local authorities to ensure that appropriate advice, support and information is made available to parents to enable them to decide what arrangements are most suited to their needs, and to put these arrangements into place.

82. Although the Committee accepts the principle of flexibility, it considers that the guidance that the Scottish Executive is committed to providing will be crucial in informing the work taking place in local authorities to develop the new parent bodies.

83. The Committee also welcomes the commitment in the Policy Memorandum36 that the Scottish Executive is to develop materials to assist effective consultation with parents including materials to support parents in establishing their parent council.

84. Subject to  the above, the Committee welcomes the flexible approach to the establishment and operation of parent councils.

Composition of the parent council

85. The Bill as introduced makes no stipulations about the composition of the parent council, except that members may only be members of the parents forum, co-opted members (if permitted under the parent forum’s constitution) or, in the case of denominational schools, nominated by the relevant church or denominational body. The Bill makes no specific provisions for representation on the parent council from teaching or other staff, pupils, local councillors or representatives from local business or the local community, although the Bill would allow for such members to be co-opted if the constitution of the council adopted by the parent forum so permits.

86. Generally speaking, those who supported the flexible approach taken in the Bill were also relaxed about the arrangements for membership of the parent forum. In respect of teaching staff, there were differing views amongst the trades unions and professional bodies who gave evidence to the Committee.

87. HAS had ‘strong feelings’ about this issue—

‘We feel that the bill's proposals represent a considerable cultural change. We have been used to having a strong partnership between parents, school staff and the community. There seems to be some kind of disfranchisement of teachers under the bill. The approach in Scottish education has been based on partnership and trust. We feel that teacher representatives can bring valuable insights to the practicalities of implementation of any proposals that are made.’37

88. AHTS and EIS however were more content with the proposals in the Bill as introduced. The EIS told the Committee—

‘We believe that there is sufficient flexibility in the bill to allow for invitations to other teaching staff, as may be considered appropriate. As one of the main functions of the parent council will be to promote good, close relations between the school and the parent body, it would be extremely surprising if ordinary teaching members of staff were not invited to attend meetings of the council.’38

89. AHTS had similar views—

‘We like the flexibility of the bill. We like the proposal that it should be the duty of the head teacher or his or her representative to attend. There can be many inputs to the parent council. It appears from the bill that if it is felt that somebody should be on the council to advise or help through co-option or invitation, there are no barriers to that. There are no barriers to us, in any case—it seems that there are no barriers to teachers or any other interested party attending the parent council if they are invited.’39

With regard to local councillors, most witnesses were of the view that in general councillors had made an important contribution to school boards, and it would be helpful to have their knowledge and expertise available to the new parent bodies in the same way. COSLA endorsed this view, noting the possible contribution to be made by parent councils to the community planning agenda—

‘[…] We also believe that it is essential that elected members be represented on the new bodies. That is important in terms of the relationship with the community planning partnerships, to which I referred earlier, and with the decision makers, in terms of the education authority function of local councils. We would like to see elected members having a statutory right of representation on the new bodies.’40

90. COSLA did however point out that more thought would need to be given to this in view of the change to the electoral system for local government elections from 2007.

‘One of our members from a rural authority seems to reckon that, if he were to be elected under the new system, he would have 33 schools in his new ward. That is a lot of evenings. We need to think this through, but we do not think that that is a reason for not having elected members on the new bodies.’41

91. The Committee agrees that although parents would always hold the majority of places on a parent council, it would be expected to be the norm that parent councils would have members drawn from the teaching and other staff of the school, pupils of the school, other people drawn from the local community and one or more locally elected councillors. The Committee also supports the continuation into the new arrangements of the ‘strong partnership ethos’ mentioned by HAS and others.

92. The Committee acknowledges that the under the Bill, arrangements for councillors, pupils and other representatives of the local community to become members of parent councils can be set out in the constitution of the parent council. However, the Committee calls on the Minister to consider whether or not such arrangements should be set out on the face of the Bill.

Role of headteacher with the parent council
93. The Committee notes that section 9 of the Bill provides that headteachers have the ‘right and duty’ to attend meetings of the parent council. Section 13 sets out the duties of the headteacher in respect of reporting to the parent council and parent forum.

94. The Committee heard mixed views on this aspect of the Bill from the professional associations and trades unions.

95. Bill McGregor of HAS commented—

‘[…] I am concerned that although the bill indicates that there should be head teacher involvement, it goes no stronger than that. I am concerned that the flexibility that is implicit in the bill might almost become a form of slackness.
I would like there to be a much clearer indication of the role of the head teacher in working with the parent council, for example on matters such as the school budget and devolved school management. […]’42

96. AHTS argued—

[…] ensuring that the school has the right levels of communication about its pupils, how the school is run and the issues that affect the school is the best baseline or foundation for any partnership between parents and school staff. […] it should also be the responsibility of the head teacher to discuss with the parent council issues on which he or she wants the parent council to make representations. 43

97. The EIS argued that attendance by headteachers at parent council meetings should be ‘a contractual and professional right rather than as a statutory duty.’

98. The Committee is content with the proposals in the Bill in respect of the role of the headteacher. The Committee agrees that attendance at a parent council meeting should be both a ‘right and duty’ of headteachers and therefore does not support the EIS position.

Functions of parent councils

99. Sections 8-11 of the Bill set out the proposed functions of parent councils. The Policy Memorandum stresses the parent council’s role as the forum’s representative voice and adds that generally there is ‘an expectation that the council members’ role is to represent the forum and reflect the matters of concern or interest to all parents of pupils at the school rather than put forward their own personal views.’

100. Specific functions mentioned include supporting the school’s management in raising standards, securing improvements in the quality of education and in developing the potential of the pupils; making representations to the head teacher, education authority and others on issues relating to parental involvement in education; promoting contact between the school, parent forum, prospective parents, local community and others; reporting to the parent forum at least annually; finding out the views of the parent forum on relevant matters and reporting them to the headteacher, education authority or other relevant party; finally reviewing and, if necessary, changing its constitution.

101. The proposed functions of parent councils attracted some criticism from existing school boards and their national body on the grounds that they were not sufficiently specific. SSBA for example in their written submission noted—

‘The Bill also contains terms like ‘have regard to,’ and ‘make representations to’ and words such as involvement which are inadequately explained. These are very much open to different interpretations by different Local Authorities. SSBA has constantly asked that the legislation should be so transparent that parents and Authorities alike should be quite clear on their rights and responsibilities, with no room for different interpretations.’44 

102. This view was shared by most of the school boards who made written submissions to the Committee.

103. The Scottish Consumer Council argued that the Bill as introduced did not propose that the new parent bodies would have real decision making powers—

‘We are concerned that parent councils will have no decision-making powers and that such powers will rest solely with the head teacher and the education authority.’45

104. However, most of the other witnesses and submissions appeared to accept that the Bill set out an enabling framework which provides an appropriate set of functions for parent councils.

Power to make representation to Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIe)
105. The Bill provides, under section 8, that a parent council may make representations to the headteacher of the school, the education authority or ‘such other person’ as appears appropriate to the parent council. The Bill goes on to specify that where a representation is to be made to HMIe, the parent council must first have made representations to, and received replies from, the headteacher and the education authority. HMIe must ‘have regard’ to any representations from a parent council and must reply.

106. The Policy Memorandum explains that—

‘The information received by HMIe will in most cases be used to inform future education authority and school inspections. The intention is not for HMIe to carry out an immediate investigation of the concerns raised except in very exceptional cases.’46

107. The Committee heard mixed views on this aspect of the Bill.

108. HAS had ‘no great concerns’ over this provision and were—

‘reassured that we are being encouraged to follow due process and that issues will be raised at the appropriate levels before HMIE becomes involved. That is an entirely appropriate way to proceed.’47

109. EIS, on the other hand stated that—

‘The EIS is of the view that HMIE is not equipped to become the educational equivalent of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.’48

110. SPTC pronounced itself ‘puzzled’ at the inclusion of the provision enabling parent councils to make representations to HMIe, as it had not been mentioned in the original consultation ahead of the introduction of the Bill.

111. COSLA was concerned over ‘the potential for frivolous or vexatious use of that provision’ whilst ADES considered that it was—

‘wholly inappropriate to cast HMIe in the role of final arbiter or receiver of complaints because that is not its role.’49

112. The Committee put these points to the Minister for Education and Young People. He advised that—

‘I want to make it clear that we do not see that provision as one that would be triggered on an everyday basis—far from it. It is a measure that exists to be used in extremis, when a group of parents who have concerns about the performance of their school that would be of interest to HMIe have come to the end of the normal procedures available to them through the parent council, and when the school itself has failed to address the issue adequately through its normal procedures and the local authority has subsequently failed to address the issue adequately. I believe that, in the overwhelming majority of circumstances, parents' concerns will be readily and adequately addressed at that level. That said, we do not want to prevent parents from referring a matter to HMIe if their concerns have not been adequately addressed. ’50

113. The Committee welcomes the clarification from the Minister that the proposed power to refer to HMIe would be only be exercised when all other options to address the concerns had been exhausted, and believes this should provide reassurance to those witnesses who had concerns about it. The Committee also recommends that further advice on the use of this power be included in guidance.

Discussion by parent council of sensitive matters
114. The EIS and others argued that it would be inappropriate for a parent council to discuss certain matters, for example individual matters affecting specific children or human resources matters affecting individual members of staff. The EIS called for guidance to be issued on this matter.

115. The Committee agrees that it would be inappropriate for parent councils to discuss matters relating to individual pupils or staff, and suggests that it would be helpful for Ministers to issue guidance on this issue.

Senior staff appointment process

116. The Bill provides that education authorities must inform the Scottish Ministers and any parent council established for a school in their area, about their appointment processes in respect of posts of headteacher and deputy headteacher. The Bill also specifically provides that the appointment process must ‘entail involvement in it of any parent council established for the school to which an appointment is to be made’. Finally, it provides that Ministers shall have powers to impose, by regulations, requirements which an appointment process must satisfy, and, by notice, require an education authority ‘to make such changes to their appointment process as may be specified in the notice.’

117. This approach is in contrast to the 1988 Act, in which the role of the school board in the appointment process, and the detailed procedures which are to be followed, were specified on the face of the Act.

118. The Scottish Executive is currently conducting a consultation on this issue.51

119. ADES was critical of the Bill’s proposals in this respect, on the grounds that they were ‘overprescriptive.’ This concern was shared by COSLA, which told the Committee—

‘There is no doubt that there are areas in which practice needs to improve ands we believe absolutely that parents should be involved in appointing head teachers. In my authority, parents are involved in drawing up the long leet and the short leet and in developing questions. Ultimately, however, the authority is the employer and it should have the final say in the process.’52

120. Generally speaking, existing school boards were critical of this section of the Bill, mainly because of the lack of detail. The SSBA commented—

‘The Bill merely states that Local Authorities will inform parents and the Executive about their arrangements for appointments and that there will be continued parental involvement. There should be more detail about this in the Bill.’53

121. SPTC recognised that there was a parallel consultation taking place—

‘Another major area of concern that arose during the consultation was the apparent diminution of the parental role in the appointment of headteachers and senior staff.  […] We welcome the fact that this consultation is now ongoing.    We also welcome the suggestion that parents should be more meaningfully involved at the person specification stage but feel it is very important that the final appointment stage should be rigorous and professional, with parent’s views contributing, but not determining, the outcome.’54

122. The Committee questioned the Minister for Education and Young People on this aspect of the Bill. The Minister advised the Committee—

‘We want to allow a wider involvement of parents than there has been in the past. We want to involve parents in the advertising strategy for head teacher posts and in discussions about the job spec and person spec for the post, so that parents can say what kind of person they are looking for. We want them to be involved in the leeting process and in the final interview. Because of the critical nature of the job, and because of the modern legal requirements to do with appointments, the appointment of a head teacher must also be a highly professional exercise and must be conducted in a professional manner. That is why we are more than happy to commit ourselves to ensuring, with local authorities, that parents are properly trained for that task. We take the matter seriously and we want to gear up the system to allow appointments to be made in a thorough and proper way.’55

123. The Committee also heard a range of views on the question of flexibility in the way in which headteachers and deputy headteachers can be deployed across local authorities. ADES, speaking in support of a more flexible approach than is possible currently, told the Committee—

‘The existing legislation is restrictive, in that a head teacher is appointed to a school and cannot be moved unless for negative reasons. There needs to be more flexibility. From talking to head teachers in my authority area, I know that they are in favour of the flexibility that would be gained through head teachers being appointed to a local authority—albeit, in the first instance, to a specific school. That would give local authorities the opportunity to be flexible.’56

124. COSLA also indicated support for such a degree of flexibility.

125. HAS on the other hand was strongly against the proposal for more flexible arrangements—

‘We do not believe that that is a forward step. If what you mean is the appointment of a head teacher to an authority followed by placement in one of the authority's schools, we do not believe that that is good either in respect of the best use of management or, which is much more important in this forum, in respect of parental involvement in selection and representation. Parents want to know who will be the head teacher of their school rather than of a school. The Headteachers Association of Scotland opposes that concept.’57

126. The Committee acknowledges that modernisation of the appointments procedures is necessary in view of the changes in educational practice and employment legislation which have taken place since the 1988 Act, and that the approach being taken is appropriate and in keeping with the overall flexible approach being adopted in the Bill.

127. The Committee also recognises the concerns that existing school boards have about the lack of detail in the Bill, and understands their fears about a possible diminution of their role. The Committee also recognised the tensions between different views within the professional organisations and trades unions, some of whom favour less prescription from the centre than is being proposed, while others would prefer a standardised approach across the country.

128. However, the Committee is heartened by the statement by the Minister on the importance of meaningful involvement of parents in the appointment process.

129. The Committee welcomes the consultation on this matter, but regrets that this will not be concluded before the Parliament has completed stage 1 of the Bill. The Committee requests that the Executive publish the results of the consultation and its proposed response before the commencement of Stage 2 to allow the Committee to take full account of this during its consideration of the Bill at stage 2.

130. The Committee has also agreed to make representations to the Parliamentary Bureau to the effect that it would prefer the Parliament to agree that the conclusion of stage 2 consideration of the Bill to be timed in such a way that there is time for the Committee to consider the Scottish Executive’s proposals.

131. It is acknowledged by the Committee that it is necessary to consult widely on this matter, but the Committee also considers that it would have been helpful for the Executive to have held the consultation earlier, so that members could have had a clearer idea of the detailed proposals.

132. The Committee is therefore unable to make any recommendation on this part of the Bill.

Other issues

National parents body
133. The  Committee is aware that this issue is not amongst the general principles of the Bill and is therefore not central to the Committee’s report. Nevertheless, the Committee heard from the Scottish Consumer Council and others that, under the Bill, the SSBA and SPTC are likely to disappear in their current form, which will leave ‘a gap at national level.’

134. SPTC told the Committee that—

‘There would be major problems in setting up a national body in the bill. The body would not qualify for charitable status because it would be a statutory body, not a voluntary body. […] The body's charitable status would also give parents a much stronger ownership of it and would make the accountability of the national body to the individual councils much clearer. If the national body was set up by statute, it would somehow become a creature of the legislation and there would not be the same dynamic interchange between the two levels. Therefore, I do not think that setting up the national body in the bill is the right way to go.’58

135. The Committee questioned the Minister on this and noted that he wishes to hear the views of the existing national bodies and other organisations before making any decisions on a possible future national parents’ body. The Committee is however heartened to hear the Minister’s view that a strong national body would have ‘a range of benefits’ and that he would be prepared, if necessary, to provide ‘some cash’ to enable such an organisation to be established.

136. The Committee supports the case for a national parents’ body, and recommends that the Scottish Executive facilitates and supports the establishment of such a body.

Charitable status
137. The Committee was grateful to SPTC for its explanation of the position of PTAs in relation to charitable status. Currently PTAs do not generally have charitable status, as this would place a number of onerous burdens on them, but SPTC as the national body does have charitable status, and is able to pass charitable donations on to the relevant PTA.

138. The Committee’s understanding is that parent councils will not be able to be charities for the purposes of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, because their activities can be controlled by the Scottish Ministers.

139. The Committee therefore calls on the Minister to clarify whether or not it is intended that any future national body will be established in such a way as to enable it to pass on charitable donations to individual parent councils in a similar way to which SPTC currently passes such donations to individual PTAs.

Complaints systems
140. Section 15 of the Bill provides that education authorities must establish and publicise procedures for dealing with complaints about how they are carrying out the functions as set out in the Bill. Members noted views that there could be an anomaly in that this Bill provides for a complaints procedure in relation to its provisions, yet no such provision is made in other areas of education. The Scottish Consumer Council told the Committee—

‘That is one of the concerns that we have about the bill. It introduces a right to complain about parental involvement but not a general right to complain about standards and quality in education. We think that it would be a significant increase in parents' rights if there were such a consideration in this bill. As many local authorities already have satisfactory complaints systems, it would not be onerous to add that to the bill.’ 59

141. This point was put to the Minister for Education and Young People by the Committee. In reply he explained that the Executive did not intend to use this Bill to widen existing complaints provisions, but stated—

‘[…] the reason why we have included provisions in the bill on complaints is to help to make it explicit that parents can make complaints about the performance of the local authority. Local authorities now have much more sophisticated complaints procedures than they had in the past—the procedures are explicit. Under existing statute, complaints mechanisms are also provided that allow complaints on matters of performance in education to go direct to ministers. We are not seeking to widen the provisions. We expect the local authorities to make explicit within their existing procedures the way in which people can make complaints on these matters.’60

142. The Committee welcomes the Minister’s clarification.

Insurance
143. The Committee understands that currently school boards may carry out activities as ‘agents’ of the local authority, and as such enjoy the similar insurance cover to that which applies to the local authority’s own staff. PTAs on the other hand have access to a group insurance scheme organised by SPTC.

144. In response to questions on this issue from the Committee, the Minister indicated—

‘I have had assurances from my officials that we can resolve those matters one way or another, but we have yet to decide how we shall resolve them.’61

145. The Committee notes that the Minister believes these matters can be resolved, and calls on him to provide clarification of the insurance situation under the Bill, ahead of stage 2 consideration.

SUBORDINATE LEGISLATION

146. The Subordinate Legislation Committee considered the Bill and reported to the Education Committee under rule 9.6.2.

147. The Subordinate Legislation Committee’s main concern was over section 19, which provides for Ministers to have powers to issue guidance to education authorities, parent councils and combined parent councils. The Subordinate Legislation Committee considered that guidance issued under this provision should be subject to some form of parliamentary scrutiny.

148. The Committee agrees with this and endorses the Subordinate Legislation Committee’s report.

FINANCIAL MEMORANDUM

149. The Committee is obliged, under Standing Orders Rule 9.6, to consider and report on the Bill’s Financial Memorandum, and in doing so must take account of any views submitted by the Parliament’s Finance Committee. The Finance Committee considered the Bill’s Financial Memorandum. The Finance Committee concluded that the Financial Memorandum was adequate. The Education Committee has nothing to add to this, and endorses the Finance Committee report.

POLICY MEMORANDUM

150. The Committee has considered the Bill’s Policy Memorandum and concludes that it provide an adequate explanation of policy.

CONCLUSION

151. The Committee is fully supportive of the principle of parental involvement in children’s education. It recognises that although many school boards have played a valuable and constructive role over the last 17 years, the system does require modernisation which could not be achieved without primary legislation.

152. Some members of the Committee, although supportive of the aim of raising levels of parental involvement in schools, had doubts that the Bill, if passed, would be effective in achieving this aim. They considered that there were higher current priorities in the education field than those proposed in the Bill.

153. A majority of members of the Committee, however, consider that the Bill is a genuine attempt to introduce a system which is more in tune with recent educational developments, yet sufficiently flexible to meet local needs.

154. There are a number of areas where the Committee considers that the Bill could be improved as the legislation progresses through the Parliament.

155. However, the Committee recommends to the Parliament that the general principles of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill be approved.62

ANNEX A

Subordinate Legislation Committee

Report on Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill at Stage 1

The Committee reports to the lead committee as follows—

Introduction

1. At its meetings on 6 December and 13 December 2005, the Subordinate Legislation Committee considered the delegated powers provisions in the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill at Stage 1. The Committee submits this report to the Education Committee, as the lead committee for the Bill, under Rule 9.6.2 of Standing Orders.

2. The Executive provided a memorandum on the delegated powers provisions in the Bill, which is reproduced at Annex 1.

3. The Committee’s correspondence to the Executive and the Executive’s response to points raised are reproduced at Annex 2.

Delegated Powers Provisions

4. The Committee considered each of the delegated powers provisions in the Bill. The Committee approves without further comment: sections 14(3), 21(1) and 24(2).

Section 8(7) Functions of a Parent Council

5. The Committee noted that this provision conferred a power on Ministers to “alter” the functions conferred on a Parent Council by virtue of section 8(1) of the Bill. The Committee asked the Executive for further clarification as to the policy intention behind the width of this power. The Committee also asked the Executive if it had plans to include a formal requirement on the face of the Bill to consult Parent Councils before making an order amending their statutory functions.

6. The Executive explained that the power to alter the functions may be exercised in light of the experience of new Parent Councils as they are established and develop. It confirmed that the power allows the functions to be “added to” in response to future changes in education policy. The Committee agreed to accept this explanation, given that the power is subject to affirmative resolution procedure, and draws the issue to the lead Committee for information.

7. The Committee was also content with the Executive’s undertaking to consult stakeholders in relation to an Order made under this section.

Section 19 General power to issue guidance

8. The Committee observed that this provision conferred on Ministers a wide power to issue guidance to local education authorities, Parent Councils and Combined Parent Councils, with regard to the exercise of any of their functions under the Bill. The Committee noted that this power as currently drafted is not subject to any Parliamentary scrutiny and asked the Executive for comments on whether this power ought to be subject to some form of Parliamentary scrutiny.  The Committee was particularly concerned that such guidance could be issued to groups of parents who may have little experience of dealing with statutory guidance.

9. The Executive stated that it would be its intention to include key stakeholders in drawing up guidance to be issued under this section. The nature of any guidance is thought by the Executive to be a matter likely to be considered further as the Bill progresses.

10. The Committee considers that some form of Parliamentary scrutiny may be desirable in the circumstances. The Committee therefore brings this matter to the attention of the lead committee for its consideration.

ANNEX 1

MEMORANDUM ON DELEGATED POWERS
SCOTTISH SCHOOLS (PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT) BILL

Purpose

1. As required under Rule 9.4A, this Memorandum has been prepared by the Scottish Executive to accompany the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill introduced in the Scottish Parliament on 28 September 2005.  It details the provisions in the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill that confer powers to make subordinate legislation.  It describes the persons upon whom the powers are conferred, the form in which the powers are to be exercised, the Parliamentary procedure to which the powers are to be subject and why it is considered necessary to delegate the powers.  It does not form part of the Bill and has not been endorsed by the Parliament.

Background to the Bill

2. The following paragraph outlines the main provisions of the Bill.  Further information about the Bill’s provisions are offered in the Explanatory Notes, Policy Memorandum and Financial Memorandum.

3. This Bill has been introduced as part of the Scottish Executive’s commitment to review and reform the legislation governing school boards (the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988 (the “1988 Act”) and associated Regulations), made in Educating for Excellence: Choice and Opportunity (The Executive’s Response to the National Debate on Education) (January 2003).  The 1988 Act established statutory parental representation in public schools (schools under the management of education authorities).  The Bill has a broader focus in that it also extends to parents’ involvement in their own child’s education.  The Bill also has to be considered in the context of other education legislation.  At present the main statutory provisions relating to education are to be found in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (the “1980 Act”) and in the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 (the “2000 Act”).  In relation to the education provided in public schools, the Bill places a duty on Scottish Ministers to promote parents’ involvement in their child’s school education; builds on and strengthens the existing duties placed on education authorities by the 2000 Act with regard to parents’ involvement in their own child’s school education and in school education generally; repeals the 1988 Act and associated legislation and makes provision for new arrangements for parental representation in schools; places a duty on education authorities to give advice and information to parents on the education of their own child; and requires education authorities to have a complaints procedure covering how they carry out their functions under the Bill.

Delegated Powers

Section 8(7) Functions of a parent council

Power conferred on:                The Scottish Ministers
Power exercisable by:             Order made by statutory instrument
Parliamentary procedure:       Affirmative resolution of the Scottish Parliament

4. Section 8(7) confers powers on the Scottish Ministers to add to or alter the functions of a Parent Council set out in the Bill.

Justification for taking this power
5. The 1988 Act, which part of this Bill replaces, set out the functions and duties of a school board in detail.  The main role of the new Parent Councils to be introduced by this Bill is in communicating with and representing parents and in doing so to support those managing the school.  This power allows Ministers to amend the functions of Parent Councils without requiring primary legislation where a change is deemed appropriate.  For example, once Parent Councils are established it may become apparent that existing functions should be altered, or new ones added. Any such additions or alterations would be brought about by means of statutory instrument subject to affirmative resolution procedure.  As is normally the case with powers which allow amendment of primary legislation, affirmative procedure is considered appropriate in relation to adding to or altering the functions of parent councils currently listed in the Bill because of the greater opportunity for scrutiny and debate by the Parliament afforded by this procedure.

Section 14(3)(a) Procedures for appointment of headteacher or deputy and participation of a Parent Council

Power conferred on:                The Scottish Ministers
Power exercisable by:             Regulations
Parliamentary procedure:       Negative resolution of the Scottish Parliament

6. Section 14(3)(a) confers on Scottish Ministers the power to make regulations imposing requirements which the process involved in relation to headteacher and deputy headteacher appointments must satisfy.

Justification for taking this power
7. Section 14 replaces the current prescriptive appointment procedures for headteachers and deputy headteachers set out within Schedule 2 to the 1988 Act. 

8. Instead of prescribing a new system centrally for senior management appointments, the Bill requires each education authority, in terms of section 14, to inform Ministers and Parent Councils about their procedures for filling such posts, and to involve the Parent Council (where one exists) in the appointment process.  While provision has therefore been made for what is a more flexible appointment procedure, section 14(3) will enable Scottish Ministers to make provision by way of regulations setting out the specific requirements which those processes must satisfy.  It is considered that negative resolution procedure is appropriate on the basis of the procedural nature of the subject matter.

9. Power is also conferred on Ministers enabling them, by notice, to require education authorities to change their appointment process to the extent set out in the notice.  The power is considered necessary to allow action to be taken at short notice, where this is considered necessary in relation to that appointment process.

Section 21(1) Transitional provisions etc.

Power conferred on:                The Scottish Ministers
Power exercisable by:             Order made by statutory instrument
Parliamentary procedure:       Negative resolution (but affirmative in relation to                                                 amendment or repeal of another enactment)

10. Section 21(1) confers powers on Scottish Ministers by order to make incidental, supplemental, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision as they consider necessary or expedient for the purposes, or in consequence, of the Bill.  The power would be appropriate to allow Ministers to make changes to other legislation as a consequence of the Bill that are not apparent at the moment.  In terms of section 22(3)(b) a statutory instrument containing an order under section 21(1), where the effect of that order would be to amend or repeal primary legislation, requires to be made by affirmative procedure.  It is considered that an order which makes such an amendment or repeal should be subject to full scrutiny and debate by the Parliament and therefore made by affirmative procedure.  In respect of other orders or regulations (aside from any made under section 8(7) as referred to earlier in this Memorandum) it is not considered necessary or desirable to require a higher level of Parliamentary involvement than that afforded by negative procedure, as provided for under section 22(2).

Section 24(2) Short title and commencement

Power conferred on:                The Scottish Ministers
Power exercisable by:             Order made by statutory instrument
Parliamentary procedure:       No parliamentary procedure

11. Section 24(2) gives the Scottish Ministers power to commence provisions of the Act by order.  Provision is made for different days being appointed for different provisions, for different areas, for different purposes or for different cases or classes of case.  This would allow a phased approach to commencement for example by reference to education authority areas, or for different provisions in the Bill.  No commencement date is specified in the Bill as Ministers are yet to determine when it would be appropriate to bring the substantive provisions of the Bill into force.  As is normal with commencement orders, no form of parliamentary procedure is required.

ANNEX 2
Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill at Stage 1
Letter from the Clerk to the Subordinate Legislation Committee to the Scottish Executive

The Subordinate Legislation Committee today considered the above bill and asks the Executive for explanation of the following matters.

Section 8(7) – functions of a Parent Council

The Committee noted that this section confers on Ministers a power to add to or “alter” functions of a Parent Council. The Committee asks the Executive for clarification of its policy intention with regard to the width of the power to “alter” the Council’s statutory functions.

The Committee also considered that Parent Councils should perhaps be formally consulted on any amendment to their statutory functions before any order is made. The Executive is asked to comment.

Section 19 – general power to issue guidance

The Committee considered that while this power is not contained in the delegated powers memorandum, as it does not confer power to make subordinate legislation, it is a wide delegated power and therefore falls within the Committee’s remit. The Committee considered that the issuing of Guidance under this provision ought to be subject to some form of Parliamentary scrutiny, or at the least laid before Parliament.  The Committee felt this to be of particular importance given that the bodies to which the Guidance may be directed include not only the more usual local education authorities, but also Parent Councils.  The Executive is asked to comment.

Response from the Scottish Executive to the Clerk to the Subordinate Legislation Committee

Thank you for your letter of 6 December, concerning the Subordinate Legislation Committee’s consideration of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill.  I trust the following response will prove helpful in clarifying the points you have raised.

Section 8(7) – functions of a Parent Council

This section provides Ministers with a power to add to, or to alter, the functions of a Parent Council.  We note that the Committee asks for clarification of the Executive’s policy intention with regard to the width of the power to “alter” the Council’s statutory functions. 

The Council’s statutory functions focus on promoting partnership between parents and the school and on the Council’s responsibility to the Parent Forum and its role as the Forum’s representative voice.  This power allows Ministers to alter these functions, if necessary, in the light of the experience of the new Councils themselves as they are established and develop.  It also allows for a Parent Council’s functions to be added to, in response to any future changes in education policies.  It may be helpful also to draw the Committee’s attention to section 22(3) of the Bill which requires any statutory instrument being made under section 8(7), amending Parent Councils’ functions, to be laid in draft before, and approved by resolution of, the Parliament.

The Committee asks if Parent Councils should be formally consulted on any amendment to their statutory functions before any order is made. 

The Executive is committed to working closely with stakeholders in the education sector.  We would, as a matter of course and good practice, consult with stakeholders in accordance with the Scottish Executive’s Good Practice Guidance on Consultation.

Section 19 – general power to issue guidance

We note that the Committee considers that the issuing of guidance under this provision ought to be subject to some form of Parliamentary scrutiny, or at least laid before Parliament. 

We note the Committee’s view that this would be important because the guidance would be directed not only to local authorities, but also to Parent Councils.  It may be helpful for the Committee to know that it would be the Executive’s intention, in line with the Good Practice Guidance on Consultation, to involve key stakeholders, in drawing up any guidance under section 19 of the Bill.  The nature of any guidance is an issue which we would expect would be considered further in the light of discussions as the Bill progresses through Parliament.

ANNEX B

Finance Committee

Report on the Financial Memorandum of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill

The Committee reports to the Education Committee as follows—

introduction

Under Standing Orders, Rule 9.6, the lead committee in relation to a Bill must consider and report on the Bill’s Financial Memorandum at Stage 1. In doing so, it is obliged to take account of any views submitted to it by the Finance Committee.

This report sets out the views of the Finance Committee on the Financial Memorandum of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill, for which Education Committee has been designated by the Parliamentary Bureau as the lead committee at Stage 1.

At its meeting on 22 November 2005, the Committee took evidence from Scottish Executive officials. Oral evidence for this meeting can be viewed by clicking here. In addition, the committee received written submissions from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education and from COSLA.

Objectives of the Bill

The purpose of the Bill is to replace School Boards which were established under the School Boards (Scotland) Act 1988, with parent forums at each school within each local authority, which will in turn elect a parent council for that school. The aim is to promote and support parental involvement in school education and to place statutory duties on Ministers to do so. 

Costs of the Bill

The costs of the Bill will fall upon the Scottish Executive, local authorities and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE). These will total £1.2m per annum from 2006- 07 onwards.
Costs upon the Scottish Executive

The Scottish Executive will be responsible for producing guidance to local authorities and parent councils as to what their roles will entail through the Bill. The Executive will provide support material to assist with the setting up of parent councils, and this will include guidance on consultations and running the parent councils.  The costs that will fall upon the Scottish Executive for producing guidance and generic support materials for local authorities and parent councils is £150,000 for 2006-07, and £50,000 for 2007-08.

Costs upon Local Authorities

Until the enactment of the Bill, local authorities will be responsible for continuing to provide support to school boards. In addition, they will also be required to provide for the creation of parent councils and forums. Once the Bill is enacted, school boards will be dissolved, and the local authorities will be responsible for providing funding to support the parent councils with their operation, administrative costs and training. This service is currently provided to school boards, and following the enactment of the Bill and the dissolution of the school boards, this funding will be redistributed to the parent councils.
Local authorities will also have a duty to promote parental involvement, and this may include providing translation of information leaflets for parents whose first language is not English.

The Financial Memorandum states that it is not anticipated that the local authorities will have to incur significant costs towards developing options and model constitutions, as this will be provided for in guidance from the Scottish Executive. However, authorities will need to cover the cost of consultation with parents, and analysing responses.

It is anticipated, that as the parent councils will be expected to have more involvement with parents than school boards at present, there may be a greater requirement for administrative assistance. The Financial Memorandum is not prescriptive in what the local authorities will need to provide towards this administrative assistance, but it suggests that this could be a paid clerk or through voluntary work.

Local authorities will also be expected to provide accommodation and guidance for the meetings of the parent councils, and to prepare and publish the scheme for each school council. In addition, they will be expected to provide training for representatives from parent councils for interviewing head teachers and deputy head teachers at schools. However, some education authorities believe that savings will be made from the removal of the requirement to advertise these posts nationally.
They will also be expected to provide a complaints procedure for parents at schools, through consultation with parents specific to the duties of the Bill. While this may incur some additional short term costs, it is not anticipated that further costs will arise, as the complaints procedure should ensure that there is more clarity in the information provided.

Local authorities will also be required to provide information to parents at their request in relation to the education of their child at the school. While this is currently provided in most schools, the Bill will make this a statutory duty upon local education authorities. The Pupils Educational Records (Scotland) Regulations 2003 currently enable education authorities to charge parents for copies of their child’s educational record.

It is estimated that costs upon local authorities of providing support, administrative costs, promoting the establishment of parent councils will be £100,9000 in 2006- 07, £112,3000 in 2007-08, and £126,6000 in 2008- 09.

Costs upon Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) currently receives representations from parents in relation to inspections of schools. While the Financial Memorandum states that it is difficult to estimate additional costs from representations by parent councils, it is believed that some of the current parent representatives may be replaced by those of parent councils. Costs would be incurred by HMIE for investigating each representation it receives.
It is estimated that for an additional 10 representations per year from parent councils, the costs upon HMIE will be approximately £23000 per annum.
The costs are set out in the Financial Memorandum as follows.

Table 1: Total Estimated Additional Costs of the Bill

 

2006-07 (Transition Year with School Boards still operational) (£000s) 2007-08 (First year of new system after commencement of Act) (£000s) 2008-09 (and subsequent years – steady state) (£000s)
Local authorities 1,009 1,123 1,266
Scottish Executive 150 50 N/A
HMIE 23 23 23
Total 1,182 1,196 1,289

Summary of Evidence

In their written submission, COSLA said that they had reservations regarding the cost of additional representations made to HMIE from parent councils. They highlighted that this could lead to additional costs, which could impact upon the costs of the Bill. HMIE however were content with the costs that were reflected in the financial memorandum.

In evidence Executive officials explained that HMIE had provided the estimate of representations. HMIE had informed the Executive that even if the number of representations made to them by parent councils were to be double this amount, they were content that they could absorb any additional costs from their budget.

The Committee asked whether the assumptions in the Financial Memorandum had been set at a minimum or maximum level of parental involvement. This was in relation to the fact that there may be a broad range of approaches and levels of activity in individual schools. Given that the Bill is not prescriptive in how parent councils should be formed, this could result in different approaches to the Bill in different schools across the country.

The Executive explained that the assumptions had been based on a figure from an assessment of the likely response to the Bill. Neither the Executive nor local authorities envisaged that there would be a much greater number of parents on a parent council more than are on the current school boards. The Executive also believed that there was unlikely to be a substantial alteration from the assumptions given in the Financial Memorandum.

The Executive confirmed the names of the four sample local authorities during their evidence which were used to develop the methodology for calculating the cost of the Bill. These were: East Renfrewshire, East Lothian, North Lanarkshire, and Highland. They chose these authorities as they cover both rural and urban areas and the east and west of Scotland. Both COSLA and the Association of Directors of Education Scotland had indicated to the Executive that they were content with the approach of using these four sample authorities to provide the assumptions of costs in the Financial Memorandum.

Conclusion

The Finance Committee considers the Financial Memorandum for the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill to be adequate.

ANNEXE – written submissions

Submission from HMIE

Consultation

Did you take part in the consultation exercise for the Bill, if applicable, and if so did you comment on the financial assumptions made?

Yes

Do you believe your comments on the financial assumptions have been accurately reflected in the Financial Memorandum?

Yes

Did you have sufficient time to contribute to the consultation exercise?

Yes

Costs

If the Bill has any financial implications for your organisation, do you believe that these have been accurately reflected in the Financial Memorandum?  If not, please provide details.

Yes – HMIE costs are specifically discussed in paragraph 72 of the Financial Memorandum and we fully endorse the statements made there.

Are you content that your organisation can meet the financial costs associated with the Bill?  If not, how do you think these costs should be met?

The costs predicted (£23,000) are relatively minor and can be absorbed within the context of the existing HMIE budget.

Does the Financial Memorandum accurately reflect the margins of uncertainty associated with the estimates and the timescales over which such costs would be expected to arise?

Yes

Wider Issues

If the Bill is part of a wider policy initiative, do you believe that these associated costs are accurately reflected in the Financial Memorandum?

Yes

Do you believe that there may be future costs associated with the Bill, for example through subordinate legislation or more developed guidance?  If so, is it possible to quantify these costs? 

We do not anticipate further costs of this nature arising.

Submission from COSLA

Introduction

As the collective voice of Scottish local government, COSLA are delighted to have this opportunity to express our views on the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill – Financial Memorandum. The Bill introduces a range of practical measures which we believe will improve the way that parents engage with schools and are involved in their children’s education.

COSLA are particularly pleased with the way that local government’s view has been considered in the formulation of this legislation. Furthermore, the high level of engagement between the Executive and COSLA has been instrumental in the development of these sensible policy proposals and practical financial projections.

We are confident that much of the associated costs of this legislation will be offset using existing resources in a different way. The overall additional costs should be relatively modest, and we are comfortable that the figures set out in the Financial Memorandum will provide adequate provision.

Did you take part in the consultation exercise for the Bill, if applicable, and if so did you comment on the financial assumptions made?

COSLA did take part in the consultation, both through the formal response process and through numerous informal discussions with officials from the Executive. No detailed comments were made on financial assumptions in our response, but there have been significant discussions on the financial aspects of the proposals.

Do you believe your comments on the financial assumptions have been accurately reflected in the Financial Memorandum?

Yes, we are satisfied that our views have been accurately reflected.

Did you have sufficient time to contribute to the consultation exercise?

Yes, sufficient time was given.

If the Bill has any financial implications for your organisation, do you believe that these have been accurately reflected in the Financial Memorandum? If not, please provide details.

Yes. COSLA undertook separate research into the likely financial implications. The results tally with those made in the Financial Memorandum.

Are you content that your organisation can meet the financial costs associated with the Bill? If not, how do you think these costs should be met

The provision outlined in the Financial Memorandum would appear to be sufficient.

Does the Financial Memorandum accurately reflect the margins of uncertainty associated with the estimates and the timescales over which such costs would be expected to arise?

Although very difficult to gauge, we are comfortable that the margins of uncertainty should not ultimately result in impossible financial burdens for local authorities.

If the Bill is part of a wider policy initiative, do you believe that these associated costs are accurately reflected in the Financial Memorandum?

Yes.

Do you believe that there may be future costs associated with the Bill, for example through subordinate legislation or more developed guidance? If so, is it possible to quantify these costs?

We do not envisage significant future costs arising. However, we have reservations about the Bill’s provision for HMIe intervention at the behest of parents, and are concerned at the potential resultant added costs for the public purse. We therefore reserve the right to comment on this at a future date if it remains in the Bill, and when we have more information about the associated costs.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

EXTRACT FROM MINUTES

17th Meeting, 2005 (Session 2)

Wednesday 5 October 2005

Present:
Ms Wendy Alexander Ms Rosemary Byrne
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Deputy Convener) Fiona Hyslop
Adam Ingram Mr Kenneth Macintosh
Mr Frank McAveety Dr Elaine Murray
Iain Smith (Convener)

The meeting opened at 10.31 am.

Item in private: The Committee agreed to take item 3 in private.

Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill (in private): The Committee agreed its approach to stage 1.

The meeting closed at 12.35 pm.


EDUCATION COMMITTEE

EXTRACT FROM MINUTES

22nd Meeting, 2005 (Session 2)

Wednesday 30 November 2005

Present:
Ms Wendy Alexander Ms Rosemary Byrne
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Deputy Convener) Fiona Hyslop
Adam Ingram Mr Kenneth Macintosh
Mr Frank McAveety Dr Elaine Murray
Iain Smith (Convener)

The meeting opened in private at 10.03 am.

Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill: The Committee took evidence at Stage 1 from—

Jennifer Wallace, Policy Manager, Education, Housing and Local Government, Scottish Consumer Council

The meeting closed at 12.21pm.

Education Committee Offical Report, Wednesday 30 November 2005

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

EXTRACT FROM MINUTES

23rd Meeting, 2005 (Session 2)

Wednesday 7 December 2005

Present:
Ms Rosemary Byrne Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Deputy Convener)
Fiona Hyslop Adam Ingram
Mr Kenneth Macintosh Mr Frank McAveety
Dr Elaine Murray Iain Smith (Convener)

Apologies were received from Ms Wendy Alexander.

The meeting opened at 10.03 am.

Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill: The Committee took evidence at Stage 1 from—

Panel 1
Alan Blackie, Director of Education and Children's Services, East Lothian Council, Association of Directors of Education
Ewan Aitken, Education Spokesperson, COSLA
Anna Fowlie, Team Leader, Education, Children and Young People Team, COSLA
Panel 2
Caroline Vass, President, Scottish School Boards Association
George Hammersley, Company Secretary, Scottish School Boards Association
Judith Gillespie, Development Manager, Scottish Parent Teacher Council

The meeting closed at 12.24 pm.

Education Committee Offical Report, Wednesday 7 December 2005

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

EXTRACT FROM MINUTES

24th Meeting, 2005 (Session 2)

Wednesday 14 December 2005

Present:
Ms Wendy Alexander Ms Rosemary Byrne
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Deputy Convener) Fiona Hyslop
Adam Ingram Mr Kenneth Macintosh
Mr Frank McAveety Dr Elaine Murray
Iain Smith (Convener)

The meeting opened at 10.03 am.

Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill: The Committee took evidence at Stage 1 from—

Gordon Smith, President, Association of Head Teachers in Scotland
Lindsay Roy, Immediate Past President, Headteachers’ Association of Scotland
Bill McGregor, General Secretary, Headteachers’ Association of Scotland
Jack Barnett, President, Educational Institute of Scotland
Ken Wimbor, Assistant Secretary, Educational Institute of Scotland

The meeting closed at 10.58 am.

Education Committee Offical Report, Wednesday 14 December 2005

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

EXTRACT FROM MINUTES

1st Meeting (2006) Session 2

Wednesday 11 January 2006

Present:
Ms Rosemary Byrne Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Deputy Convener)
Fiona Hyslop Mr Kenneth Macintosh
Mr Frank McAveety Dr Elaine Murray
Iain Smith (Convener)

Apologies: Ms Wendy Alexander and Adam Ingram

The meeting opened at 11.31am.

Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill: The Committee took evidence at Stage 1 from—

Peter Peacock MSP, Minister for Education and Young People
Colin Reeves, Head of Schools Division, Education Department, Scottish Executive
Deirdre Watt, Bill Team Leader, Education Department, Scottish Executive
Stephanie Walsh, Team Leader, Teachers’ Division, Education Department, Scottish Executive

1. Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill (in private): The Committee considered its Stage 1 report.

The meeting continued closed at 1.04pm.

Education Committee Offical Report, Wednesday 11 January 2006

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

EXTRACT FROM MINUTES

3rd Meeting, 2006 (Session 2)

Wednesday 25 January 2006

Present:

Ms Rosemary Byrne

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Deputy Convener)

Fiona Hyslop

Adam Ingram

Mr Kenneth Macintosh

Mr Frank McAveety

Dr Elaine Murray

Iain Smith (Convener)

Apologies: Ms Wendy Alexander

The meeting opened at 10.03 am.

Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill (in private): The Committee considered a draft report.  The Committee agreed by division (For 4, Against 1, Abstentions 2) to recommend to the Parliament that the general principles of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill be approved

The meeting closed at 12.25 pm.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

EXTRACT FROM MINUTES

4th Meeting, 2006 (Session 2)

Wednesday 1 February 2006

Present:
Ms Rosemary Byrne Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (Deputy Convener)
Fiona Hyslop Adam Ingram
Mr Kenneth Macintosh Mr Frank McAveety
Dr Elaine Murray Iain Smith (Convener)

Apologies: Ms Wendy Alexander

The meeting opened at 10.36 am.

Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill (in private): The Committee agreed the contents of its stage 1 report.



1 Agreed by division - For: Iain Smith, Dr Elaine Murray, Mr Kenneth Macintosh, Mr Frank McAveety. Against: Lord James Douglas-Hamilton. Abstained: Fiona Hyslop, Adam Ingram.

2 Policy Memorandum, para 29

3 Source: Scottish Executive, 2004 data

4 Support for School Boards. An independent report prepared by Philip Banks for the Scottish Executive. July 2002. Available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/education/sfsb.pdf.

5 Ibid, p23

7 Making the Difference. Research on parents’ views of Scottish Executive proposals to improve parental involvement and representation in schools.

8 “Public school” refers to a school managed by an education authority.

9 Policy Memorandum, p 10, para 3

10 Ibid

11 Policy Memorandum, para 13

12 EIS, written submission to Education Committee

13 COSLA written submission to Education Committee

14 SSBA written submission to Education Committee

15 COSLA written submission to Education Committee

16 Barnett, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2909.

17 HAS written submission to Education Committee

18 SPTC written submission to Education Committee

19 SSBA written submission to Education Committee

20 Policy Memorandum, p6 para 22

21 SPTC written submission to Education Committee

22 Peacock, Official Report, Education Committee, 11 January 2006, col 2961.

23 Policy Memorandum, p7 para 26

24 Policy Memorandum, p7 para 27

25 Ibid

26 SSBA written submission to Education Committee

27 Gillespie, Official Report, Education Committee, 7 December 2005, col 2882.

28 Gillespie, Official Report, Education Committee, 7 December 2005, col 2883.

29 Blackie, Official Report, Education Committee, 7 December 2005, col 2861.

30 EIS, written submission to Education Committee

31 Glasgow City Council, written submission to Education Committee

32 Highland Council, written submission to Education Committee

33 North Lanarkshire Council, written submission to Education Committee

34 Perth and Kinross Council, written submission to Education Committee

35 Ibid

36 Policy Memorandum, para 29

37 Roy, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2910.

38 Barnett, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2910.

39 Smith, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2910.

40 Aitken, Official Report, Education Committee, 7 December 2005, col 2864.

41 Ibid

42 McGregor, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2911.

43 Smith, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2911.

44 SSBA, written submission to Education Committee

45 Wallace, Official Report, Education Committee, 30 November 2005, col 2851.

46 Policy Memorandum, p8, para 33

47 Roy, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2908.

48 Barnett, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2908.

49 Blackie, Official Report, Education Committee, 7 December 2005, col 2872.

50 Peacock, Official Report, Education Committee, 11 January 2006, col 2964.

51 Parental Involvement – Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher appointments: A consultation document

52 Aitken, Official Report, Education Committee, 7 December 2005, col 2863.

53 SSBA, written submission to Education Committee

54 SPTC, written submission to Education Committee

55 Peacock, Official Report, Education Committee, 11 January 2006, col 2973.

56 Blackie, Official Report, Education Committee, 7 December 2005, col 2873.

57 McGregor, Official Report, Education Committee, 14 December 2005, col 2920.

58 Gillespie, Official Report, Education Committee, 7 December 2005, col 2898.

59 Wallace, Official Report, Education Committee, 30 November 2005, col 2586.

60 Peacock, Official Report, Education Committee, 11 January 2006, col 2977.

61 Peacock, Official Report, Education Committee, 11 January 2006, col 2965.

62 Agreed by division - For: Iain Smith, Dr Elaine Murray, Mr Kenneth Macintosh, Mr Frank McAveety. Against: Lord James Douglas-Hamilton. Abstained: Fiona Hyslop, Adam Ingram.