HEADTEACHERS are riding roughshod over parent councils in the wake of plans to give more powers to school leaders, according to a leading body.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said members had reported a raft of concerns including heads demanding control over the agendas for meetings and refusing to provide information.

The SPTC even said they had received complaints of headteachers demanding direct access to parent council bank accounts.

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The warnings come after the Scottish Government announced proposals to create a Headteachers’ Charter which is set to become law in 2018.

The charter will further empower headteachers allowing them to shape the curriculum, decide on how funding is allocated and choose staff.

However a response from the SPTC to a Scottish Government consultation on plans to give more funding to heads raised concerns about the impact even before legislation has been introduced.

The paper states: “Over recent months we have recorded a distinct trend towards headteachers assuming a position of authority over the parent council in their school, which is contrary to Parental Involvement legislation.

“This has manifested in a number of ways, including headteachers attempting to dictate parent council agendas and work, refusing reasonable requests for information and demanding changes to the parent council bank account to gain direct access.

“Our helpline has handled a significant number of calls on these and similar issues since the start of the 2017/18 session – a trend which concerns us and which leads us to the view that those headteachers who seek to control rather than work with their parents are misinterpreting the proposals from government for increased authority.”

The SPTC called for the issue to be addressed directly in the Headteacher’s Charter as well as through amendments to the existing Parental Involvement Act.

The body went on to warn that any plans to direct fund schools were being undermined by wider cuts to education budgets.

A survey of parent councils found 92 per cent felt not enough money was being spent on schools.

This has resulted in a growing trend of funds raised by parent councils being used to pay for essentials rather than additional items.

The survey highlighted the use of parent-raised funds to buy books, refurbish libraries and provide study guides to pupils.

“Given that some of our member groups can raise in excess of £50,000 per annum, this spending can be significant,” the report states. SPTC would therefore argue that parent-raised funds must not be used for essentials in schools.

“This requires schools to be adequately funded and clear direction given to both school leaders and parent groups about the use of funds.”

Overall, parents backed more money going to schools with accountability resting with headteachers – as long as decisions were discussed with teachers and parents.

However, there was a concern that headteachers did not have the necessary skills to take control of finances and that they should not become business managers.

The response adds: “Employment of business managers should be resourced from additional funding, not from funds for classroom teachers or teaching resources. Further, concerns were expressed around the way in which some headteachers will respond to this additional power. Some parents expressed the view that some headteachers are simply not competent to take on this role, others that good headteachers will do well.”