PARENTS are set to get a voice on the city council’s education committee for the first time.
The council plans to appoint a parent representative to the Education, Children and Families Committee, who would attend the bimonthly meetings and express their opinion.
It is envisaged that he or she will also be able to vote on matters, although the exact details of the role are still to be confirmed.
A report will be presented to the committee at the next meeting in October and if it is given the green light, it is hoped that the parent will be in place by the following meeting.
The city’s education leader, Paul Godzik, said: “There is a strong commitment to develop parental involvement. We are looking closely at parental representation on the Education, Children and Families Committee. We have also ensured that there is parental representation on the Estate Evaluation Forum, which is looking at the long-term pressures brought about by rising primary school rolls.
“We recognise the current structure for consulting with parents is in need of revamping. We believe there is a need to provide a more diverse range of opportunities for parental input.”
It has not yet been decided if the parent representative will be a parent of a primary or secondary school pupil, or how the parent will be selected, but the council said any parent wishing to be considered should have the chance to do so.
Education spokesperson for the Greens, Councillor Melanie Main, said: “There are three religious representatives and two teacher representatives on the committee, so it’s very important that we have at least one parent representative.”
However Sean Watters, a member of Towerbank Primary Parent Council, branded the plans “patronising tokenism”.
He said: “How many parents are there with a child at a city of Edinburgh school – 40,000, 50,000? The idea that a single parent representative suddenly means parents will have an effective voice is nonsense. How could one individual possibly be expected to reflect the views of such a large group of people? If the council is interested in the views of parents, they have to ask them directly. That requires consulting widely, not simply relying on parent councils.”
Meetings have been taking place with schools and parents over the last 18 months to consult on how best a new “parental engagement strategy” would work. This information will help inform the report, which is due to be presented to the committee next month.