THE leader of Scotland’s headteachers has claimed that parents who “gossip” and spread “false statements” are damaging their children’s education.
Greg Dempster, general secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputies in Scotland (AHDS), said that parents’ behaviour often poses problems for school leaders.
He said that whilst parental engagement was of “high value”, ultimate decision-making regarding children’s education should come from schools’ senior managers.
But parents criticised Mr Dempster’s statement and said that parents were the “primary educators” of children.
They said that schools should not expect to be “immune” from difficult behaviour amongst a minority of parents.
In a submission to a Scottish Government consultation on the way schools are run, the AHDS wrote: “Most schools work hard to engage with parents, but still encounter significant barriers which include the fact not all parents wish to be involved.
“Further, while parental engagement is important, the ultimate decision-making should lie with the school senior management team supported by local authorities.
“Engagement with parents’ own mental health issues, false statements, spurious accusations, false statements, inaccurate information, gossip and the use of social media, complaining about other children’s additional support needs and so on, can detract from what school leaders as professionals know to be in the best interests of the children in their care.”
It added: “A reallocation of responsibilities or a change of structures will not achive the government’s ambitions for the system.
“These changes would be no substitute for the necessary increase in resources, including staffing, that Scottish education requires.”
But Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, disagreed with the submission.
She said: “It’s very unfortunate various extremely negative characteristics that apply across the population are assigned to parents in this response.
“Anyone who works with the public will recognise and understand that ill-health and difficult behaviour is simply part of the job and school staff cannot expect to be immune from that.
“Parents are the primary carers and educators of their children, a role that public services are there to support.”
In their submission, School Leaders Scotland, which represents secondary head teachers in Scotland, criticised schools quango Education Scotland.
They said: “We have issues over the strategic vision, we question the capability to deliver effectively. There is constant message and material overload generated.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Our school governance review offers the opportunity to openly debate how we can best empower parents, teachers and communities.
“At the heart of the review is the presumption that decisions about children’s learning and school life should be taken at school level. This is built on strong international evidence that where you have empowered schools and engaged parents you get better educational outcomes. That is what we are determined to deliver.
“We welcome all contributions to our consultation, and will carefully consider all submissions going forward.”