PARENTS have been left “puzzled and excluded” by an official consultation into plans for radical changes to the way schools are run.

The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said fewer than one third of members were able to contribute to key questions on the reforms because of the way they were worded.

The criticism comes after the Scottish Government announced plans to move power over education away from councils and place more decisions in the hands of headteachers.

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In a foreword to the consultation John Swinney, the Education Secretary, said the moves would ensure decisions about children’s learning were taken as close as possible to local communities.

However, an official consultation response from the SPTC says only 260 parents out of 840 who responded were able to answer specific questions on governance.

Its submission states: “It is ironic that a document which has as one of its stated aims that parents should be more empowered, in fact excluded very many parents from participation.

“The consultation presumed high levels of knowledge about the existing governance model in Scottish education and used language which would be familiar only to those working in the sector.

“It is tantamount to expecting a patient with a broken leg to understand the inner workings and operational structures of the various NHS services they might encounter such as orthopaedics, anaesthesia, radiology and physiotherapy.”

The SPTC also said they had received negative feedback about public information events stating: “Parents who attended... have generally been left puzzled and feeling excluded from the debate.”

In October, parents in Glasgow raised similar concerns after a public meeting attended by government officials.

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After the event, a parent of two primary aged children said the consultation appeared designed to disengage parents adding: “The questions are completely impenetrable to your average parent who doesn’t have an in-depth understanding of current school governance.

“I appreciate the aim that parents should be involved in decision-making, but I am unable to answer these questions because I do not have sufficient knowledge.”

Examples of questions which caused confusion include one that asks: “What are the barriers within the current governance arrangements to achieving the vision of excellence and equity for all?”

Another states: “How can effective collaboration amongst teachers and practitioners be further encouraged and incentivised?”

A third asks: “How should governance support teacher education and professional learning in order to build the professional capacity we need?”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We will consider these consultation responses as we move to put schools and communities at the heart of education and ensure decisions about the life of schools are driven by schools themselves.”

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The SPTC submission also attacked the Scottish Government’s policy of preserving teacher numbers, which has led to cuts in support staff.

It states: “Parents are frustrated that funding for education is subject to a range of restrictions from Scottish Government.”

The submission adds: “An example is the way in which local authorities are obliged to keep teacher numbers at a defined level.

“While on the face of it this is a sound policy which aims to ensure there are sufficient teachers in our classrooms, it has in fact created perverse incentives and is widely recognised as being dysfunctional.”

The government has committed to consult on a new Education Bill in early 2017.