Section 8 – Functions of a Parent Council
31.Section 8 sets out the functions of a Parent Council, and details other matters concerned with the operation of the council.
32.Section 8(1)(a) requires the Parent Council’s efforts to be directed towards supporting those managing the school in their endeavours to raise the standards and quality of education in the school and to develop the pupils at that school to their fullest potential. This links the functions of the council to the statutory improvement framework in the 2000 Act as well as the duty on education authorities in section 2 of the 2000 Act to secure that the education provided by them to an individual child is directed to the development of the pupil to their fullest potential.
33.The Parent Council may make representations to the headteacher and education authority about the arrangements in the school to support parents in getting involved in their own child’s education, and that of all the pupils at the schools generally (section 8(1)(b)(i)).
34.It may also make representations to the education authority about the arrangements in the authority’s area to support parents in getting involved in their child’s education and in the education provided to all pupils attending public schools in the authority’s area (section 8(1)(b)(ii)).
35.The Parent Council’s other functions as set out within section 8(1)(c) to (h) are to promote contact between the school, the Parent Forum, pupils and others; to report at least annually to the Parent Forum on its activities; to seek, collate and report the views of the Parent Forum on specified matters, and to review its constitution and amend it as necessary, seeking the agreement of the forum members.
36.In addition, section 8(2) provides that a Parent Council established for a primary schools is to promote contact between the Parent Forum of the school and such providers of nursery education to prospective pupils of the school as the Parent Council considers appropriate. Subsection (3) defines what is meant by a ‘provider of nursery education’.
37.Section 8(4) allows the Parent Council to make representations to the headteacher, education authority or others as appropriate, in regard to specified matters detailed within section 8(1)(e). The council need not have obtained the views of the Parent Forum before making such representations.
38.Section 8(5) and (6) make specific provision relating to representations made by a Parent Council to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE). Where a Parent Council decide to make representations to HMIE, they are required to have first made representations to the education authority and also, as appropriate, to the headteacher and must also have received replies. Such representations might, for example relate to the standards of education in the school, the quality of education provided by the school or any other matter of concern or interest to parents of pupils at the school. HMIE in carrying out their functions are required to have regard to these representations and to reply to the council. This is in so far as it is reasonable and practicable for HMIE to do so. HMIE’s functions are to be found in section 66 of the 1980 Act (inspection of educational establishments) and sections 9 to 12 of the 2000 Act (education authority inspections and codes of practice as regards inspection of authorities and educational establishments). Representations from a Parent Council may raise issues of relevance to HMIE’s functions and this provision sets out a statutory framework through which HMIE can be made aware of issues of concern or interest to the council raised by a Parent Council with the headteacher or education authority. HMIE have to take them into account.
39.Section 8(7) details what is required by way of consent, when the council is seeking to amend or replace its constitution. Each member of the Parent Forum must be sent a copy of the proposed amendment or replacement, with an invitation to say whether they agree to the proposed change, and an indication of the period within which a response is required. The Parent Council may amend the constitution if the majority of those responding agree the amendment. It must then provide the education authority and the headteacher with a copy of the revised constitution (section 8(8)).
40.In terms of section 8(9) the Scottish Ministers can, by order, add to or alter any of the functions of the council. A statutory instrument containing such an order is subject to affirmative procedure in the Parliament (see section 22(3)).
41.Section 8(13) requires Parent Councils to have regard to any guidance issued to them by the education authority under subsection (14). The purpose of such guidance is to assist in ensuring that any duty upon the authority, whether under statute or arising from any rule of law is met.