§ 41. Mr. Gerald Howarth
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the recent visit to Denmark by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth).
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
I visited Denmark between 23 and 25 November to study the system of school management and arrangements for parental involvement in education. I am most grateful to the Danish Government and to the authorities, organisations and schools which I visited and with whom I had discussions.
Parents in Denmark are extensively involved in all aspects of the running of the school system at municipality and school level. In particular, every publicly managed school providing education for children undergoing compulsory education is supervised by a school board whose members are elected by and from the parents and guardians of children involved in the schools; the school principal and representatives of the teachers, pupils and the municipality attend meetings of the school board and participate in discussion but cannot vote. The school board can discuss, make proposals and comment on all matters relating to the school. In many areas they are substantially involved in staffing appointments and have delegated powers to decide on the use of a substantial share of the budget allocated to the school. The statutory powers of school boards include drawing up school rolls and approving the distribution of work among teachers, the weekly timetable and the educational materials which the school intends to use.
The overriding purpose of the school board system is to further co-operation between the school and the homes of the pupils. The work of the boards appears to contribute substantially to securing a successful and responsive education service. Relationships between professional educators and parents appear to be greatly enhanced by the existence of formal mechanisms for involving parents closely with their schools.