INDEPENDENT NEWS

Labour promotes Parent Advocacy Service

Published: Mon 26 Jul 1999 04:09 PM
Labour would establish a Parent Advocacy Service within the Office of the Commissioner for Children specifically to help with parents and children's disputes with the school system.
The proposal is part of Labour's education policy for schools, released today.
Education spokesperson Trevor Mallard said parents were often unsure about where they could go to for help when they had a dispute with a school principal or board.
"Labour established a Parent Advocacy Council as part of the changes to the school administration system 10 years ago. It was seen as a balance to the greatly increased powers that went to boards. Two years later it was scrapped by National despite there being clear evidence of the need for such a service. There was no replacement.
"Just recently, the Office of the Commissioner for Children revealed that they had 431 school related complaints last year - up from 136 in 1995.
"The office was not established to deal primarily with education conflict but they currently make up more than a third of total complaints as parents often feel they have nowhere else to turn. Legal action through the Courts is usually out of the question for financial reasons, but it's also not necessarily in the best interest of either the school or the child.
"Labour believes that for parents to have full confidence in the education system, they must be able to have their voices heard, not only on general policy issues through their boards, but also in relation to concerns about their individual children," Trevor Mallard said.
Under Labour, a Parent Advocacy Service will be a formal part of the Office of the Commissioner for Children - providing advice to parents in respect to their rights within the education system and assistance in progressing complaints.

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