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PARENT GOVERNORS SET TO LOSE POWERS

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Parent governors set to gain legal rights to be represented on education committees for the first time later this y...
Parent governors set to gain legal rights to be represented on education committees for the first time later this year are likely to lose out under plans for cabinet-style local government.

Many councils have already inaugurated a system of parent governor representation on education committees, a system which is to become legally enforceable under the School Standards Act 1998 from 1 September.

But the government's proposals for a streamlined executive mean parent governors may only have powers of scrutiny rather than decision making in the future.

Martin Rogers, co-ordinator of research group The Education Network, said: 'I'm surprised there has not been more of an outcry. I think parents care about decisions rather than the scrutiny.'

He said parent governors would inevitably find themselves looking at issues beyond education on scrutiny committees, despite the fact that the legislation refers only to rights over education. Councils might have to examine restricting parent governors' supervision.

'They have no real legitimacy over other members of the community to scrutinise issues beyond education,' he said.

Local Government Association education committee chairman Graham Lane said the LGA is to press education secretary David Blunkett to support an annual conference of parent governors in a bid to boost their political credibility.

'Parent governors serve a particular constituency and could be a very valuable political voice,' Mr Lane said.

But the system of parent governors having the same rights as elected councillors has its critics.

Dorset CC Labour group leader Alan Chedzoy said: 'Parent governors are appointed, not elected. They do not have a democratic mandate from the community as a whole.'

In a letter to LGC this week Dr Chedzoy argues that in the case of a hung council the appointment of up to five non-elected education committee members 'might well change the political balance on the committee, and therefore frustrate the wishes of the electorate'.

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