The Scottish Government has withdrawn all funding for the National Parent Forum of Scotland, The Herald can reveal.

In a letter to NPFS chair Cheryl Burnett, the head of engagement at the Education Reform Directorate confirms the decision – which she says was made by Cabinet Secretary Jenny Gilruth – and insists that the Scottish Government “remains committed to supporting parental engagement particularly at this critical juncture for education reform”.

The government will instead engage Connect, a different parents’ group, to establish a new National Parent Panel (NPP). Details of how this scheme will operate have not been disclosed.

Ms Burnett told The Herald she was “shocked” by the move, which she says took place despite a lack of “direct consultation” with her organisation.

The NPFS was set up in 2009 following the passing of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006, which established a “duty of the Scottish ministers to promote the involvement of the parents of pupils in attendance at public schools”.

It exists to gather and represent the views of parents and carers from across the country, and has also produced a range of documents intended to help understanding of and engagement with the education system.

The organisation has been run entirely by volunteers in recent years, and had already seen its funding reduced, but the government has now decided to withdraw all financial support. This also means that NPFS hosting arrangements with Children in Scotland (CiS) will come to an end.

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Speaking to The Herald after the funding cut was confirmed, Ms Burnett said: "We are shocked that a government headed by John Swinney, who was among the MSPs that worked to found the National Parent Forum ofScotland in the wake of the 2006 Parental Involvement act, would defund our vital work without any direct consultation."

Other NPFS members also hit out at the decision. Barrie Sheppard, the representative for North Lanarkshire and longest-serving current member, said that he was “astonished and disappointed”, while Sine Mackay from Highland Council area raised concerns that the views of parents and carers she represents “will not be heard” in the new structure.

The Scottish Government was asked to confirm how much money it would save by withdrawing funding for the NPFS, and how much it expected to spend establishing the new model of parental engagement, but refused to answer these questions.

It was also asked to explain how this decision would affect the statutory role of the NPFS, which is listed as a legally notifiable organisation in areas such as Gaelic Medium education.

A spokesperson said that the Scottish Government is "committed to strengthening parental engagement and has been carefully considering options to deliver this in the most effective way".

 “We have asked parental organisation Connect to host a National Parent Panel (NPP) which will  allow the views of a diverse range of parents and carers to be sought on a range of issues relating to education and to feed into national policy development. It is anticipated that the new panel will be in operation in time for the start of the new academic year.

 “We are very grateful to the NPFS chair, leadership team and volunteers for their significant contributions over a number of years.