A plan to upgrade the legal status of a parent group has been blocked by headmasters who fear its voice could become too strong. The Government originally planned to change the Committee on Home-School Co-operation from an advisory group under the Education Department to a statutory body. It planned to amend the Education Ordinance next year to give the body the higher status by 2002. As a first step, the group was to register as a corporation next month. But the move has been delayed after some members of the Board of Education, another education advisory body, opposed the plan. At a board meeting last month, at least two school principals questioned the change. Officials replied that they would study the issue further. The group was set up in 1993 to advise on ways to promote parents' involvement in education. It now organises more than 850 parent-teacher associations. The committee has adopted a high profile this year and published guidebooks on kindergartens and secondary schools. Stephen Hui Chin-yin, chairman of the Subsidised Secondary Schools Council and a member of the Board of Education, said the parent group should continue to act as a body to help organise parent-teacher associations within individual schools. 'All members of the committee are appointed by the Government. It is nonsense if it is changed to a statutory body and claims to represent all parents in Hong Kong,' he said. 'I think the Government should explain more on the group's new role after the change.' A source close to the Government said many headmasters had been angered earlier this year by a consultation document on school-based management which suggested at least two parents' representatives be elected as members of a schools' management committee. He said the Government wanted to strengthen the role of parents in schools to promote education reforms. 'Whenever there is a controversy on education reform which targets schools or teachers, parents are always a strong back-up force,' he said. 'Some school authorities may worry that parents would meddle in the day-to-day operation of schools in future. 'The headmasters may also be worried that a stronger voice from parents would give rise to conflict on campus.' Tik Chi-yuen, chairman of the Committee on Home-School Co-operation, said the plan to change the body to a statutory body had faced some difficulties, but failed to elaborate. Mr Tik said the change could increase efficiency as the committee would have its own staff and secretariat. He added the committee could also attract commercial sponsors. Cheung Man-kwong, president of the Professional Teachers' Union, said it was a worldwide trend for parents to have a bigger voice in school affairs.