The Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act, 2006, makes clear the importance of involving pupils in Parent Councils, specifying that:
the Parent Council must tell pupils in attendance at the school that it has been established and communicate with them (para. 6, (7)(iii))
the function of the Parent Council is to promote contact with pupils at the school (para.8, (c), (iv))
Two key principles of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, are:
the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all actions concerning children (Article 2)
children’s views must be considered and taken into account in all matters affecting them (Article 12)
Issues discussed by the Parent Council will necessarily focus on the interests of children and young people who will have views on what is being discussed. Pupils can also play a valuable role in helping promote the interest and involvement of parents in the school.
How can children and young people become involved in parent councils?
Some suggestions for schools to involve children and young people in Parent Councils might include:
regular communication between the Pupil Council and the Parent Council, including sharing of minutes and the attendance of a representative from the Pupil Council, appropriately supported, at the Parent Council and vice versa
regular communication between the Parent Council and other representative pupil bodies eg. the Eco-Schools group, the Hungry for Success group
the setting up of pupil focus groups on specific issues under consideration by the Parent Council
regular formal and informal consultation with pupils on issues under discussion by the Parent Council eg. by paper surveys, e-mail. Pupils themselves, as well as being consulted, could be actively involved in the process of consultation eg. by drawing up surveys or collating responses. Some issues may also sit well within the ongoing work on Citizenship within schools and could become part of lesson plans
a Parent Council notice board with a permanent pupils’ comments space
a suggestions/ideas box for pupils to communicate directly with the Parent Council
joint work or projects involving the Parent Council and pupils of the school on areas of common interest or concern
pupil membership on the council.