Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education

supporting inclusion, challenging exclusion

news from 1999

End of year review

LEA trends

During 1999 more LEAs announced policy reviews of special educational provision. Yet despite this trend toward inclusion at policy level, families’ day-to-day struggles continued for properly supported mainstream placements.

Gloucestershire LEA and Sunderland LEA in particular received widespread coverage for their inclusion efforts. Gloucestershire LEA faced opposition from the Special School Protection League but insisted that its plans to move children into mainstream was not a cost cutting exercise and would enhance children’s opportunities. Sunderland LEA brought in an independent consultant to advise them on their proposed special educational needs shake-up after the Government told the Council to rethink their £12 million proposals to integrate disabled children into mainstream. Sunderland South MP, Chris Mullen, said the Government was ‘clearly not satisfied’ that suitable alternative provision was being made for children moving from special to mainstream settings. A Special Needs Tribunal decision backing a parent’s claim of inadequate mainstream support was predicted to be the first of many more to come in the Sunderland area. In Lambeth a security guard had to be called in to protect councillors at a Special Education Committee meeting after chaotic scenes broke out over the proposed closure of eight special schools in the area.

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Mainstream support

Several national reports on the high standards in inclusive schools gave encouragement to the struggle for adequate services for disabled children in the mainstream. Yet individual cases of lack of support continued to undermine progress.

A family in Plymouth were not unusual in finding problems with support services in mainstream so bad they felt they had no alternative but to remove their daughter to a separate special school. They reported that difficulties finding cover when classroom assistants were absent meant that their daughter was sent home from school 15 times in five months. However, in Newcastle hopes were raised of better services in future when 115 special needs assistants graduated from a pioneering training course. And able-bodied pupils continued to provide informal support for disabled classmates, including pupils in Cwmbran who designed special vibrating alarms to alert hearing-impaired pupils in case of fire.

According to one commentator, disputes about the education of special needs children formed the single largest category of complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman.

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In Ireland the Government approved measures to meet special educational needs after the Minister of Education warned improvements were necessary to halt the ‘almost daily’ appeals to the High Court by concerned parents. Campaigners from the Edinburgh-based group Equity criticised the Scottish Government for ignoring the segregation of children in special schools in its new Improvement of Education Bill. The group said placing children in special schools was a form of apartheid which perpetuated discrimination. In England a new Special Educational Needs Bill was promised to provide new rights for disabled children to attend mainstream schools as well as quicker decision making about levels of support and improved conciliation services in cases of dispute.

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Family struggles

Reports of twins not being allowed to attend the same school because one child was disabled highlighted the injustice of separate specialist provision. In Manchester school chiefs were persuaded to change their minds about placing an 11-year-old who has cerebral palsy in a different school from his twin brother. And in Kent a local MP complained about the insensitive way 5-year-old twins had been treated by placing one child in a mainstream primary and the other in a special language unit.

The problems faced by Zahrah Manuel in Camden demonstrated how disabled children can be excluded from mainstream schools, even when resources have been made available for inclusion. Twelve-year-old Zahrah was turned away from Whitefield School because she was said to be ‘too disabled’. The school received £750,000 to make it accessible but still claimed that including Zahrah would be a health and safety risk because staff had not been properly trained. The issue of health and safety regulations creating a barrier to inclusion was taken up by a mother in an article in a disability journal. She said regulations had gone too far in trying to reduce risks for staff. The greater risk was of damaging children’s self-esteem and increasing segregation.

In a new survey conducted by the Down’s Syndrome Association, a quarter of parents said they faced opposition from LEAs when they asked for a mainstream school rather than a special school for their children.

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An increasing number of special needs children could be integrated in mainstream schools as Wigan pilots a new government initiative. The authority has received £106,000 to pioneer a new proposed policy on inclusion. If successful it would be expanded across the country.
Wigan Observer, January 1, 1999.

After years of being viewed as something of an educational black hole, the East End of London has at last got something to celebrate. Newham, one of the most deprived areas in western Europe has received a glowing report from the Government's Education watchdog, Ofsted. By purging weak teachers and refusing to allow poverty to become an excuse for failure the borough has become a model of success against the odds. Jane Johnson is head of St Stephen's primary school which, in line with Newham's policy of accommodating as many children as possible in mainstream schools, has its fair share of children with special educational needs. They include childen with autism and refugees, many scarred by the wars they have escaped. Some of the children come to the school with emotional and behavioural problems, but Mrs Johnson is proud that she has never expelled or even suspended a child in her 16 years as head.
Evening Standard, London, January 7, 1999.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind is conducting a pilot project to link three special schools with a cluster of mainstream schools to give 200 blind or partially sighted children access to the Internet using speech synthesis and braille printers. Adept at touch typing, the blind children will be able to listen to information held on educational websites and download text in large format or braille. Lesley Waddell, RNIB's national ICT development officer said: 'The government wants every child to have an Internet address by 2002. Our project offers the blind equality of opportunity and access to information and knowledge'.
The Times, January 8, 1999.

Nine county councillors are to monitor all moves in Gloucestershire to integrate children with learning difficulties into mainstream schools. This follows the decision of the education committee to proceed at a much slower pace than suggested by officials. Councillors fear another care in the community style fiasco and a huge backlash from parents if children are moved from the county's 16 special schools without the money and trained teachers to cope with them properly.
Gloucester Citizen, January 9, 1999.

Campaigners from the threatened Barbara Priestman School have been told by visiting Education Minister, David Blunkett, that their case will be given a fair hearing. The 20-strong group of protesters were delighted at the news after years of campaigning to save their school from closure. Mr Blunkett, who was opening a new careers service based in the city's library, stopped especially to meet the determined protesters.
Sunderland Echo, January 9, 1999.

Staff and parents today spoke out against a shake-up of education of disabled children in Blackburn and Darwen which could lead to the closure of some special schools. Many special school heads expressed their concerns but Jane Barrie, head of Dame Evelyn Fox school, is backing the Council. She said: 'This is part of a national review that has been recommended by the Government. I am very confident that the councillors will not introduce any measures that will not be in the interests of children with special needs in the borough.'
Lancashire Evening Telegraph (Blackburn), January 9, 1999.

Schemes to help West Country pupils with special education needs to be more integrated into mainstream schools have been given an £865,421 boost by Schools Standard Minister Estelle Morris. She said: 'The programme addresses the future development of education for these children and confirms our commitment to increasing inclusion where parents want it and appropriate support can be provided.' The grants will be awarded in two categories -- standard special needs provision which will help finance staff and resources, and pilot projects designed to bring together special and mainstream schools, including integrating individual children and monitoring their progress.
Western Morning News (Plymouth), January 11, 1999.

A teacher who let a five-year-old boy smack six bullies with a ruler has lost her industrial tribunal case it was revealed yesterday. Brenda Davies, 51, had allowed a special needs pupil to tap the hands of children who bullied him at Tennyson Road Primary School in Luton, Beds, but the hearing rejected her claim.
The Sun, January 12, 1999.

Physically disabled schoolchildren in Bury will get a £100,000 boost. The Government grant will be used to improve disabled access to schools across the borough. At the same time education chiefs approved ambitious plans to improve facilities for the disabled in schools. Head of pupil services, Mrs Trish Dawson, said:'It is about putting disability on the agenda of every school and giving childen the chance to be educated within their local community instead of travelling to specialist schools outside the borough.'
Radcliff Times, January 14, 1999.

Thousands of parents with children who require special help are to be consulted in a major review by Sandwell education chiefs. Chair of Sandwell's education committee, Councillor Bill Thomas, said initial signs showed parents wanted their children educated in mainstream schools. 'Sandwell is moving ahead with what parents want -- that is children going to mainstream schools and receiving the support they need.'
Sandwell Express and Star, January 25, 1999.

Two London special schools today unveiled a surprise legal move to thwart proposals to shut them. Lambeth Council has recommended the closure of three specials schools for deaf, blind, physically handicapped and emotionally disturbed children, integrating hundred of pupils into the borough's mainstream schools. Tulse Hill's Thurlow Park and Turney School in Dulwich have opted out of Council control and say they will fight closure in court if necessary.
Evening Standard (London), January 26, 1999.

An extra one million pounds is being put into education in Wales to help children with special needs. The money, announced yesterday by Welsh education minister Peter Hain, is being coupled with an action programme for the future of special education which includes plans to give better support to children and parents, better training for teachers and more inclusion in mainstream classrooms for special needs youngsters. Mr Hain launched the programme at Tywyn Primary in Port Talbot, a school which has made enormous strides in providing inclusive education. Tywyn's SEN pupils have a wide range of difficulties including learning difficulties, restricted speech, autism and cerebral palsy. Mr Hain, who toured classrooms and met pupils and teachers, praised the school as proof that children of different abilities can be educated together.
Western Mail (Cardiff), January 27, 1999.

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A Gravesend teenager who has autism has been teaching computer skills -- despite his parents being told when he was two that he would not cope in mainstream education. William Melling, a pupil at Gravesend Grammar School for Boys, was among 150 youngsters to be awarded the Child of Achievement Award at a prestige ceremony on Sunday. Teachers have been amazed at William's progress and tests have shown his reasoning talents are exceptional. William attends Ifield Special School, Gravesend, once a week with his classroom assistant, Emma Hudle, to help others with computers.
Gravesend Messenger, February 10, 1999.

In a letter to the Editor, Parents, Friends and Associates of Barbara Priestman Special School say they are not against Sunderland's SEN Review or against inclusion if it is appropriate for the child and is the parents' choice, 'as stated by David Blunkett and Estelle Morris'. They say there has been no proper discussion or consultation with parents. 'We have been told what is going to happen, not asked for our opinion.'
Sunderland Echo, February 10, 1999.

Education throughout the Stroud area in Gloucestershire could be affected if special schools are closed, a new campaign group has claimed. The Special Schools Protection League has been formed to protect Bownham Park School for pupils with moderate learning difficulties and other special schools in the Gloucestershire area which could be threatened by changes in special education policy.
Stroud News and Journal, February 10, 1999.

Special needs education in Barnet, London, is due to be discussed at a Council meeting tonight. A new approach prompted by the Government, now adopted by Barnet, aims to integrate children with special needs into mainstream schools. Councillors looked set to approve a timetable of meetings to introduce the new approach.
Edgware and Mill Hill Times, February 11, 1999.

Teachers and children at Miserden School in Gloucestershire have learned the British Sign Language alphabet to support 6-year-old Stephie Hill who is profoundly deaf. And Stephie's friend Amy Preston, also 6, has not only learned the alphabet in sign language but also uses words and phrases. 'When I don't know a sign I ask the teacher,' says Amy. 'I can make Stephie understand me and I understand Stephie.'
Malmesbury Standard, February 11, 1999.

Greenhead College in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, is celebrating an astonishing success getting 26 pupils into Oxford or Cambridge in one year. The college is particularly proud of its record with disabled students. This year, for the first time, two disabled students have gained places at Oxford, both studying history. Ahsan Ali, who is blind, has been offered a place at St. John's College, and Simon Howes, who has cerebral palsy, plans to go to New College. Greenhead assistant principal, Alasdair Brodie-Brown, said: 'This is the first year the college has taken pupils who are blind or partially sighted. We are very clear here -- disabilities are no bar to entry to this college'.
The Mirror, February 12, 1999.

Trade unionists have criticised a decision by Derbyshire Council to end funding which provides extra support for children with special needs. Unison say hundreds of educational care officers who provide support for disabled children will face reduced hours or even redundancy. 'It will put increased demands on already overstretched teachers who will have to cope with the problems ECOs would have dealt with. It could force hundreds of children out of mainstream education and into specialist institutions', said a Unison spokesman.
Rotherham Star, February 15, 1999.

Attendance at Gloucestershire County Council's next education committee meeting will be by ticket only. The final stages of the Council's controversial review of special needs provision is one of the issues under debate. Special needs centres across the country are being closed in line with Government policy to teach special needs children in mainstream schools. Council spokeswoman Stella Parks said the Council will be deciding the most efficient way of providing for special needs children.
Gloucester Citizen, February 18, 1999.

A mother has won a battle to keep her twin sons together at mainstream school. Shaun and Steven Sloan were due to be parted because Council officers feared that their local high school could not cope with Steven's cerebral palsy. But after their mother contacted the Manchester Evening News, they have changed their minds about the 11-year-old brothers who are due to leave St. Mark's Junior School in Bredbury in summer. They will both go to Werneth School, close to the family home in Woodley, next September. Mrs. Sloan said: 'Werneth needs a lot spending on facilities to adapt it properly but it wouldn't take a lot for it to be adapted for Steven -- just a few ramps that would cost a few thousand pounds. It would cost £6,000 a year to send him away from Werneth. Wherever he went, Steven wouldn't leave school a great academic and in any other school he is not going to get much different from what he would here'.
Manchester Evening News, February 23, 1999.

The Chair of the Education Committee of Sunderland Council, Coun. R.F. Hunter, says that the Council's proposals for the development of special education in Sunderland -- and the objections -- are now being considered by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. All the objections to the authority's proposals related to Barbara Priestman Special School. The other six special schools in the area had given positive messages. Nearly all those who objected to the closure of Barbara Priestman School were in favour of the principle of inclusion and some teachers from Barbara Priestman were already working in mainstream settings to support disabled children.
Sunderland Echo, February 27, 1999

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Two special schools in Darlington are trying to find the cash to go ahead with a joint bid to gain technology college status. Abbey Hill School in Stockton and Beaumont Hill School in Darlington want to be a technology base for all students with learning difficulties in the Tees Valley. Mike Venning, headteacher at Abbey Hill, said: 'It would be the first nationally if our special schools get this status so we would be pace setters in that sense. We would establish a centre of excellence.'
Northern Echo (Darlington), March 5, 1999.

Special schools are to be scrapped in Islington, London, in a long-term plan to integrate children in mainstream education. The five special schools in the area will shut and children with special needs will attend mainstream classes or special units within primary and secondary schools. Islington Council aims to model itself on Newham where special schools have been phased out over the past 11 years. Pupils from Rosemary School for children with severe learning difficulties are likely to be the first to be integrated.
Highbury and Islington Express, March 5, 1999.

Children with Down's Syndrome are being denied the right to attend mainstream schools, according to a new survey. A quarter of parents interviewed for the survey said they had faced opposition from local education authorities in choosing mainstream education for their children over special schools. And the survey also found out that when their children were accepted into mainstream schools the support services provided varied widely. For example, provision of help from learning support assistants varied from one hour to 37 hours a week, depending on the LEA. Carol Boys, director of the Down's Syndrome Association, said that a number of LEAs are unwilling to provide the support required to allow children with Down's Syndrome to attend the school of their choice which for many parents is the local mainstream school.
Western Morning News (Plymouth), March 8, 1999.

A parent governor at Barbara Priestman Special School in Sunderland which is due to close says that comments that many people are supportive of inclusion is misleading. According to the governor, Ms M. Binns: 'It is true that many people submitting proposals were supportive of the principle of inclusion but it has also been pointed out by thousands of Wearside objectors that these people only support this principle in an ideal world situation. 'Surely not even the bureaucrats at the Civic Centre are so arrogant as to suggest that they can create such a world for our children?'
Sunderland Echo, March 13, 1999.

Cheshire County Council's Education Committee voted by an 8-5 majority to close Brook Farm Special School which takes children with emotional and behaviour difficulties from across Cheshire and Wirral. Councillors were unanimous in their praise of Brook Farm but some said the closure was inevitable because of falling numbers.
Chester Chronicle (Country), March 19, 1999.

There has been criticism of a headteacher's comments that the success of his Buckinghamshire school was partly due to not having children with special educational needs. In a letter to the Editor, Deborah Armstrong writes: 'I think it is a shame if we take these league tables seriously and worry about academic achievement in this narrow-minded way. I always thought that good schools were down to teachers and supportive parents working together with adequate county funding to help children achieve their individual best at whatever level. I would be very wary of proclaiming a school top of the league based solely on the results of one year's class in a key stage test.'
Bucks Free Press, March 19, 1999.

A series of investigative articles by a Gloucestershire newspaper has concluded with new proposals for a re-organisation of special educational needs provision in the county. According to the investigation, councillors of all parties show a marked reluctance to press ahead quickly with reform before the detailed logistics of a major policy change are known. Now the headteacher of the county's largest special school, the Milestone School, is suggesting what he calls a 'middle way'. Vincent Stroud, who is researching the integration of special need pupils for a doctorate, suggests that special schools should be encouraged to work alongside mainstream schools over a five year period so that pupils who are ready can transfer to the mainstream with support. Mr Stroud pointed out that already some children were being integrated into mainstream from special school each year in a structured and supported way and added: 'I ask that we work together to create the right kind of provision for pupils with special educational needs which makes special schools a part of education as a whole, and not apart from it'.
Gloucester Citizen, March 23, 1999.

Claims that parents want their children educated in mainstream schools in Gloucester have been hotly denied. Wendy Wilding, who is a parent and school secretary, says the reason why numbers are falling in special schools is because children need to have a statement of special educational needs to be considered for a special school and the education authority has made it 'almost impossible' to obtain one. She adds: 'Let's face it. They got it all wrong when they decided on care in the community and I am sure they have got it wrong now'.
Gloucester Citizen, March 23, 1999.

Parents in Greenwich fear their children will suffer at the expense of a new super-school to be build near the Millennium Dome. They fear that the Millennium School which will be built in the eco-village near the Dome will poach pupils and cash from several other struggling schools in the area with the result that small schools which are important to the community will face closure. Among other benefits, the showcase school will boast state-of-the art computers and will include children with special needs throughout the age-range. Parents think that an exodus from other schools to the Millennium School will be sparked because childless, yuppie couples attracted to the area will not fill it. Greenwich Council insists that the school will not open until there are enough school-age children in the eco-village peninsula and say that the Government offer for funding for the first year is too good an opportunity to turn down.
New Shopper Greenwich and Charlton, March 24, 1999.

Parents with children with severe learning difficulties in Harrow are battling to have them sent outside the Borough because they claim local special education is not good enough. Now they have launched a campaign to improve Harrow's only school for children with severe learning difficulties, Whittlesea School. They say it has not got the facilities to meet the specific needs of the range of pupils it educates, is overcrowded and badly organised.
Stanmore and Edgware Observer, March 25, 1999.

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The Association of Teacher and Lecturers meeting in Harrogate, West Yorkshire, called for all staff to be given specialist training to control violent and disruptive pupils. It emerged that teams from Ashworth Special Hospital in Merseyside had been called in to train staff in several schools and nurseries in restraint techniques. The training covers safe ways of restraining violent youngsters, such as arm grips, and ways of leading children away from confrontation or potentially harmful situations.
The Independent, April 2, 1999.

Teachers in Nottingham are expressing concerns about new proposals for special needs education due to be announced soon by Nottingham Council. Since 1991 the Council has been placing an increasing number of children with special needs in mainstream schools and currently only 900 children in the city attend special schools. John Peck, of the National Association of Headteachers said the council could expect a 'battle royal' if they tried to push the policy any further. He said teachers and schools felt they were not supported properly and that the LEA had moved too fast already. In their recent report on Notts education authority, inspectors from the Government watchdog, Ofsted, said one third of the schools visited expressed 'negative and sometimes very critical views' about the Council's approach to pupils with special needs.
Nottingham Evening Post, April 6, 1999.

A disabled girl who last month met the world's top diplomat in New York is continuing to face difficulties with her schooling. Hero Joy Nightingale of Canterbury met Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations on her way to accept an international award in Australia. The severely disabled 12-year-old cannot speak and communicates via her mother. The pair hold hands and Hero's mother translates her movements. Hero wants Kent County Council to find her an enabler so that she does not have to depend on her mother but the Council have been unable to provide a suitable person. A KCC education official said the Department had done everything possible to help Hero, but their efforts had been disrupted by her family's demands. 'We don't understand the way she communicates and this has made it very difficult to identify the most appropriate education for her needs. We have been trying for some time to undertake independent assessments into her abilities but so far the family has been reluctant to work with us.'
Kentish Gazette (Canterbury) April 8, 1999.

Angry parents demonstrated outside County Hall in Mold, Flintshire, demanding a better deal for dyslexic children. The Shotton-based Dyslexia Action Group is demanding a fair slice of the education cake to meet children's needs. Action Group secretary Heather Baird, is teaching her daughter at home because of the lack of specialised teaching in the county. She says there are more than 6,500 parents in Flintshire with dyslexic children and they are all fed up with being fobbed off. 'We think money is being misused. Schools are getting it but they are not using it as it should be used and there is no check on what they do with it'.
Deeside Chronicle, April 9, 1999.

Special education in Leicestershire is set for wide-ranging changes following a two-year investigation. The proposed development plan for special education includes more local services for special needs toddlers, linking special schools with mainstream, developing provision for secondary school pupils with moderate learning difficulties, a unit for autistic children, provision for pupils with visual difficulties, improving access to mainstream, more support for schools with problem children, considering a special school for teenage boys with emotional and behavioural difficulties, better access to information for parents, a three year training plan for staff, teachers, governors and parents and a review of the role of educational psychologists and specialist teachers.
Leicester Mercury, April 20, 1999.

A security guard was called in to protect Lambeth councillors amid chaotic scenes at a special education meeting last week. Anger erupted as the committee decided to issue statutory notices for the phased closure of eight schools including south London's only school for the visually impaired and a school for children with hearing impairment. The committee chair, Councillor Ty Goddard, said after the meeting that the special needs review was the only way to reduce the borough's 3,000 surplus school places. He said: 'Every surplus place damages a Lambeth child because it means resources are being misdirected. This is a painful process for all of us but we want to renew and rebuild schools in the borough for a better future.'
The Mercury, Streatham, Brixton and Clapham, April 28, 1999.

Health chiefs say they have major fears over plans to reduce special school provision in Blackburn and Darwen. Broadlands Nursery, Blackamoor, Dame Evelyn Fox and Crosshill special schools are all under review under plans to integrate more children into mainstream. But East Lancashire Health Authority, which was asked to respond to the proposals, has major reservations. Director Bev Humphreys says resources to meet the needs of children with special educational needs are already at full stretch in the present system and the situation will be much worse if more special needs children are integrated. Health staff and therapy professionals will have far more travelling to do to reach children all over the borough.
Lancashire Evening Telegraph (Blackburn), April 20, 1999.

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When pupils leave Janice Carhill's school after just 12 months, she is glad to see the back of them -- because it means a job well done. Teenagers arrive at the Pendlebury Centre in Edgeley, Manchester, nervous and anxious. Typically they have emotional and behavioural difficulties and may have suffered from bullying. But they usually spend no more than 12 months at the special school before going back to their old schools. Now the school's achievement has been recognised in a glowing report by Ofsted, the Government's education watchdog, which praised the 'high quality of teaching by well-led and dedicated teaching staff'. The report said one of the school's main strengths was its ability to motivate students who had previously been poor attenders with many pupils going to 90 per cent. of lessons.
Manchester Metro News, May 1, 1999.

Special needs classes in Rhondda schools are to close during a three-year scheme to re-integrate children with learning difficulties into mainstream classes. By 2001 education chiefs hope that all pupils with moderate learning difficulties will have been included in mainstream. Rhondda Council inherited 36 special needs classes from Mid Glamorgan authority and it was felt that a move to a more appropriate range of services was needed. Children in special needs classes will be re-assessed and some may have to go to special schools, although the majority will be placed in classes with other students.
Rhondda Leader, May 6, 1999.

Parents campaigning to save Gloucestershire's special schools are prepared to take their fight to Number 10. They say they will march on Downing Street unless education bosses scraps plans to integrate pupils with learning difficulties in mainstream schools. Members of the Special Schools Protection League pledged to battle on after councillors voted to press ahead with closure of five of the county's special schools. The vote flew in the face of opposition from 50 protesters who waved Save Our Schools placards on the steps of Shire Hall in Gloucester before the meeting. The campaigners also handed in three petitions containing more than 6,000 signatures.
Gloucestershire Echo, May 14, 1999.

A blueprint to allow Sheffield's 800 special needs children to be taught in mainstream classes, creating a school campus capable of teaching all kinds of pupils, is being prepared. It will be the first detailed shake-up of the sector for five years and plans are set to be completed in Autumn. Rather than the present system of scattered units and 13 special schools, education chiefs are trying to create local provision in a wide range of schools. New schools in the city are being designed with special needs pupils in mind, such as the Birley 'super-campus'. Penny Penn-Howard, Education Department head of Pupil and Student Support, said: 'We have actually created barriers which are delaying the help special needs children need.'
Sheffield Weekly Gazetteer May 27, 1999.

Mini MPs from East Yorkshire had some prime questions for ministers when they met them at Westminster today. The meeting was the next stage of the Childrens' Parliament which aims to give youngsters a chance to tell the Government what they think are the important issues of the day. Scott Walker, 10, asked a question about access to building for disabled people. He wanted to know whether access could be planned before building work is carried out so that when children with special needs are ready to go to mainstream school they do not have to wait for building alterations.
Hull Daily Mail, May 25, 1999.

The parents of a girl with Down's Syndrome repeatedly sent home because of staff absences are threatening to remove their daughter from mainstream education. Geoffrey and Lesley Hetherington say Sarah, 10, has been sent home from Whitleigh Junior School, Plymouth, about 15 times since January. Mr Hetherington said: 'We want Sarah to have social integration with other children. We want her to have a normal a life as possible. When a teacher is off the school does not send a class of 32 pupils home but when Sarah's classroom assistant is not in she is sent home.' The head teacher, David Vickers, said when a teacher was ill it was usually possible to get a supply teacher but it was not as easy to get a classroom assistant. He said the education authority was trying to address the problem.
Plymouth Evening Herald, May 25, 1999.

The mother of a 16-year-old autistic boy has described how Hereford School in Grimsby turned around the life of her child. Pat Evans said she believed the school, which had been criticised by an MP's wife, could not have not have done more for her son Richard. Richard's behaviour difficulties began when a favourite teacher died and he believed he was responsible for the death. However, his mother says the school never gave up on him and now he has been able to take two GCSEs. 'They have done everything they can to bring him on. When he first came I never thought he would be the young man he is today.'
Grimsby Evening Telegraph, May 26, 1999.

A family from Leicestershire have finally won the right to send their severely disabled child to a residential special school. An independent Special Educational Needs Tribunal has ruled against the LEA's plans for Bobo Singh, 15, and supported the parents in their conviction their son needs residential care and a specialist school for the blind. A bid by the LEA to force a review of the Tribunal's decision has also been thrown out. Bobo's dad said:'We are obviously delighted with the Tribunal's decision, but it is what we were asking for 10 years ago. We are devastated that our son has been denied the education he should have had when he was 5 years old.'
Leicester Mercury, May 27, 1999.

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Consultation on revived plans for a shake up of special schools in County Durham will begin next week. Durham County Council education chiefs gave the go-ahead last week to begin talks on the possible closure of four existing schools and their replacement with two new ones. If approved, the proposals would see Murphy Crescent and Warwick Road School in Bishop Auckland along with Whitworth House in Spennymoor and Rosebank in Ferryhill replaced. The plan is to build a 160-pupil school for pupils with a wide range of special needs, aged from 2 to 11, years on the Warwick Road site and an 200-place school for pupils aged 11 to 19 at Spennymoor Comprehensive lower site at a total cost of £7.3m. When similar proposals were put forward four years ago there was fierce opposition from two of the schools but since then one has burned down and agreement has been reached at the other.
Wear Valley Advertiser, June 3, 1999.

A charity campaigning to allow terminally ill children to stay on at school after their illness has been diagnosed has received a lottery grant of £127,167. Researchers for the Children's Hospice South West believe that too many children with life-threatening diseases are excluded from school because head teachers feared they would be blamed in anything happened to them. Jill Farwell, who founded the hospice near Barnstaple, North Devon, said school gave sick children's lives an element of normality and continuity and gave parents a break. It also helped other children to come to terms with death. Researcher Tricia Nash said: 'It must be terribly upsetting for a child if they know they are being excluded from school. It is difficult for the parents too. They are made to feel like outcasts.'
The Times, June, 1999.

Parents of a girl with Down's Syndrome, who has been repeatedly sent home from school because of staff absence, have decided to send her to a special school. Geoffrey and Lesley Hetherington say they have been forced to take Sarah, 10, out of Whitleigh Junior School after she was sent home 15 times since January. Head teacher, David Vickers, said it was hard to get staff to stand in. Sarah had done well socially and academically and he was sad to see her go. A spokesperson for Plymouth City Council said it was satisfied with the support given to special needs pupils at Whitleigh. 'This is a matter of choice for the parents.'
Plymouth Evening Herald, June 9, 1999

Parents of children with learning disabilities yesterday vowed to break the law and keep their youngsters off school if a special school is closed. The pledge came after Hartlepool Borough Council decided to close Thornhill Special School by 2001. Angry mothers and their children gathered outside Hartlepool Civic Centre with placards to lobby councillors in a vain attempt to prevent the closure. The decision is part of the local education authority's new policy of integrating children with special needs into mainstream schools.
Northern Echo, June 10, 1999.

Harrow last year had the worst record in London and the third worst in England for excluding pupils from special schools. Out of 203 children in Harrow's three special schools, five were excluded last year, although the year before none were excluded. A spokesman for Harrow Education Authority said: 'Of the five children we excluded last year from special schools three were from other boroughs so we may not have been given a complete picture of their needs. It does cause us concern if any pupils is excluded from a special school and we are committed to including children in mainstream schools.'
Stanmore and Edgware Observer, June 24, 1999.

Extra teaching staff for the deaf are set to be employed in Walsall to cope with the increasing number of pupils with hearing difficulties entering mainstream schools in the borough. Walsall Council is set to appoint an additional part-time teacher of the deaf and a full-time nursery nurse sign communicator to join the authority's hearing impaired service. The service currently has eight staff members -- the same level as ten years ago.
Wolverhampton Express and Star, June 29, 1999.

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Governors and head teachers are giving plans to integrate more Gloucestershire children with special needs into mainstream schools a favourable response, it has been claimed. Education Director, Roger Crouch, says consultations on the county's draft development plan for special needs education have revealed that schools chiefs are happy -- provided they are convinced the money will be available to provide the right facilities and teaching. The proposed closure of the four area special schools is the most controversial issue to come before the Education Committee for some time. It has led to the formation by parents of the Special Schools Protection League.
Gloucester Citizen, July 7, 1999.

Slades Farm School for children with emotional and behaviour difficulties will be closed pending consultation, Bournemouth Councillors have decided. At their Education Committee meeting last week, members approved a decision to close the school. Consultation with parents, teachers, and the community will take place but unless strong objections are raised the plan will go ahead. The Council has successfully bid for £443,000 in Standards Fund money to open out-reach, one-to-one programmes in mainstream schools. Children from Slades will be transferred to mainstream and the empty building will be used for training and support for specialist teachers. Councillor Phil Carey, a governor at Slades Farm, said that children with greater problems could also be taught at the resource base on a temporary basis.
The Daily Echo, July 12, 1999.

Pupils at a South Wales school realised deaf classmates could be in danger if a fire broke out because they could not hear the alarm. So the caring Year 5 pupils at Hollybush Primary, in Cwmbran, came up with a sensational idea. Their vibrating alarms -- which can be worn in a variety of ways such as wrist bands and badges -- have now won them a place in the finals of the prestigious 3M Primary Innovation Awards competition. Hearing impaired children from all over Gwent attend Hollybush school where they are integrated into classes. Signing teachers work alongside class teachers to support the children.
South Wales Argus, July 13, 1999.

A determined 12-year-old has won a qualification in sign language -- so she can talk with her 11-year-old cousin who is deaf. Despite opposition from a teacher who thought she was too young to learn the language, Samantha Speight, started a Leeds College course two years ago to learn the skill which would overcome the barrier between her and her profoundly deaf cousin, Matthew Barron. The two have been friends since they were toddlers. They live close together and are growing up together. Samantha's mother Lisa said she wanted to learn sign language because it is Matthew's first language.
Yorkshire Evening Post, Leeds, July 15, 1999.

Parents protested outside Yorkshire's only school for blind children yesterday over plans to merge it with two mainstream schools. Children from all over the county go to Temple Bank School in Bradford which was saved from closure last year after a campaign by parents. They are uniting again to oppose Bradford Council's plans for the pupils to be taught in two new mainstream schools and for Temple Bank to become a resouce unit. One parents said she wanted Temple Bank to retain its special status because that is what made it a success. Without special status parents would not be attracted to it and it would be effectively 'killed off'. Head teacher Rick Neal has welcomed the proposals. Governors have also come out in favour of going into partnership with other schools.
Yorkshire Post, July 17, 1999.

A High Court judge has thrown out calls for an independent inquiry into a special school in Swansea. The parents of a terminally ill five-year-old girl failed to earn a judicial review into the school's alleged non-resuscitation policy for terminally ill childen. They withdrew the girl from the school, Ysgol Crug Glas, because they claim the policy would have resulted in her being left to die. It now looks like the case will go to the Court of Appeal. Mr Justice Sullivan dismissed their call saying the policy of denying immediate resuscitation was only in place for a short period in late March and early April. But Nigel Pleming QC for the grandparents said the policy should not have been in place at all. The grandparents were entitled to an independent inquiry to satisfy them it was safe for their grand-daughter to return to school.
South Wales Evening Post, July 20, 1999.

A petition against plans to review the future of special schools in Sandwell, Midlands, was presented to education chiefs yesterday. More than 500 pupils from Millfield School have registered their protest. They claim their children's education is suffering because of uncertainty surrounding the borough's 11 special schools. An Education Department spokesman said: 'Nothing is cut and dried. There will be genuine consultation before anything is decided.'
Birmingham Post, July 23, 1999.

Controversial plans to close Sunderland's Barbara Priestman Special School and seven other special schools have been kicked out by the Government. Schools Minister, Charles Clarke, today ordered City Councillors to re-think their £12 million proposals to integrate special needs youngsters into mainstream schools. The decision will save eight schools from closure and block plans by four others to establish their own additional special needs facilities. Mr. Clarke credited the mountain of objections as the main reason for his landmark move to resist the Council's blueprint. Sunderland South MP Chris Mullen said: 'The government is clearly not satisfied that suitable alternative provision was being made for Barbara Priestman pupils in mainstream schools.' He added that it was almost unprecedented for ministers to block a council which was following the government policy to integrate special needs pupils into mainstream schools.
Sunderland Echo, July 23, 1999.

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The mother of an eight-year-old boy with cerebral palsy says his placement in mainstream is being threatened by overly strict implementation of health and safety rules. Writing in a disability journal, Jane Parkinson describes how various activities, including school trips and stays at his respite carer's house, have become very difficult to arrange because of the strict approach. She says health and safety regulations have gone too far in trying to reduce risks for people working with disabled people. The greatest risk is to children's self-esteem and privacy and to society in general if parents are forced to send disabled children to specially equipped schools, segregated and wrapped in cotton wool. 'I feel these rules are forcing us backwards in a desperate attempt to avoid compensation cases and in the misguided belief that absolute safety can be guaranteed.'
Disability Now, August 1999.

Three Appeal Court Judges have granted a family leave to sue Bromley Council over a special school placement. They heard that David Gower, 16, who has muscular dystrophy, did well in mainstream school until the age of nine but was moved to the Marjorie McClure special school in Chislehurst. However, his parents removed him amid claims teachers had not provided him with the computer teaching he needed to socialise with other pupils. They allege that their son failed educationally and suffered emotionally and psychologically as a result.
News Shopper Orpington and Chislehurst, August 4, 1999.

A special school in Nottingham has taken on a role as a literacy summer school. Woodlands School in Aspley, which caters for 5 to 16 year olds with learning difficulties or challenging behaviour, is one of only a handful of schools in the country to be running such a scheme. During the two-week summer school 16 pupils came back into the classroom every day for a standard six-hour school day. They were picked because it was felt they would benefit from extra tuition.
Nottingham Evening Post, August 6, 1999.

Bruce and Suzanne Dorricott have won a climbdown from Powys education authority over its refusal to allow their disabled daughter, Ceri, to attend her choice of mainstream secondary school with her friends. Mr. Dorricott said that the family was told by Powys LEA in April that Ceri's place at Crickhowell High School was secure, but learned to their amazement four weeks later that Powys had withdrawn the place. 'The reasons given were ridiculous and showed that the people involved had not worked with Ceri during her taster day at the school. It was a heck of a shock to hear she had been barred from going and we felt we had to challenge the reasons behind it.' The family were ready to take the matter to the High Court in London but after seeing the weight of argument Powys LEA were advised to back down and accept Ceri as a pupil at Crickhowell.
Abergavenny Chronicle, August 19, 1999.

More children with special needs should be offered places at mainstream schools, a blueprint document says. Essex County Council makes the suggestion in its report Special Educational Needs - A Draft Action Plan for Essex. The document outlines how children who are today sent to special schools, will in the future have realistic alternative places in mainstream schools. And that will mean providing extra support. Although four out of five pupils with special needs are placed in the school that both they and their parents want, the Council wants to increase the number even further.
Cheshunt and Waltham Mercury, August 20, 1999.

A severely disabled teenager has spent the last year in a psychiatric hospital because there's no cash to pay for his education. Christopher Beattie was admitted to Muckamore Abbey, Antrim, while health chiefs tried to place him in a special school. But that was in June 1998 and now his Mum, Sharon, fears the 17 year old has been forgotten. Christopher, who is autistic, had been attending Park View Special School four days a week and living with his Mum, while the remaining three days were spent at the hospital. However, school staff decided Christopher's behaviour was too much for them and he was moved to the hospital last June.
Sunday Life, Belfast, August 22, 1999.

Plans for sweeping changes to Walsall's special schools will be tabled before December, despite doubts over financial backing for the scheme. Education bosses will hold further talks with head teachers before forming a strategy to overhaul special education for 600 pupils with behavioural, physical and learning difficulties. In a report to Walsall Council's schools organisation committee, education co-ordinator John Round said earlier plans were being re-drafted to be put before the education committee during the Autumn term. Mr Round said it could take until December before plans were ready because officers would have to find funds for the scheme.
Walsall Express and Star, August 23, 1999.

Kyle Barton has celebrated his sixth birthday by taking his first faltering steps on his new artificial 'back to front' legs. Kyle, who lost his limbs two years ago following meningitis, has amazed doctors by his stunning recovery. Now he has taken his first steps on the new legs which have the feet at the back to give him confidence to walk. The 'back to front' legs replace a more usual set of legs which were made for Kyle shortly after his illness but he was always frightened of falling backwards and never gained confidence in them.
Daily Star, August 27, 1999.

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When James Cope was two years old consultants told his parents that he would never be able to walk, talk or do anything because of his severe disabilities. Born in 1983 with cerebral palsy, James has now proved them all wrong. He has passed all nine of his GCSEs -- a notable achievement for any 16-year-old. James, who attended St David's High School, Wrexham, said it felt good to show people what he was capable of. His father Tony said: 'It's great that after all that hard work, James has now got his GCSEs. He didn't have to prove anything to me or his mum -- we'd have been proud whatever he got -- but he has done really well. When we went to St. David's to see the head teacher, Geoff Rate, about James attending a mainstream school he simply said that St. David's was a community school and James was a member of the community like anyone else. The school has been brilliant'.
Wrexham Mail, September 2, 1999.

The celebrations have been short-lived at Barbara Priestman School, Sunderland, following the Government's decision to throw out Sunderland Council's plans to close it. Numbers are continuing to fall and governors accuse the council of discouraging parents from sending their children to the school. The council denies such action saying that the fall in numbers was the reason it began its review of the school's future in the first place.
Sunderland Echo, September 3, 1999.

A disabled pupil has been told to stay away from her new secondary school because it cannot cope with her special needs. Zahrah Manuel, who has cerebral palsy, was due to start at Whitefield School in Barnet last week. But the school claims that the 12-year-old would be a health and safety risk because staff have not been trained to deal with her disabilities. School bosses are now appealing to the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, to allow them to legally refuse her a place on the grounds that she is too severely disabled to teach. Zarah attended a mainstream primary school in West Hampstead but was turned down for her local secondary school because it was not wheelchair accessible. Her parents opted for Whitefield because it was the nearest wheelchair-accessible school to their home. Her mother Preethi, who has campaigned for a mainstream education for Zarah since she was four said: 'I have had to break the news to my daughter that she has nowhere to go to school. The first day of secondary school is a marker day in any child's life and she has missed it'.
Hampstead and Highgate Express, September 10, 1999.

People with a view on how children with special educational needs should be taught in Gloucestershire are to have their say at a series of special meetings. Gloucestershire County Council has organised the interactive public workshops to find out what people think about its SEN proposals. They will take into account opinions gathered from parents, teachers and governors during six public meetings across the county during September and October. County Councillors will be considering the proposals at an education committee meeting on November 15.
Stroud News and Journal, September 15, 1999.

Scope, the charity for people with cerebral palsy, is calling on Essex Council to urgently reverse plans to close a specialist unit attended by disabled children with physical and neurological impairments at the mainstream Maunds Wood School in Harlow. The charity believes the move will seriously affect the children because the Council plan to relocate them in mainstream schools which are not fully accessible and do not have sufficient specialist support. Dissatisfaction with the Council's provision for special educational needs is also reflected in the number of appeals against the Council to SEN tribunals which reached 103 in 1998, one of the highest in the country. Scope is also concerned at reports that the Council is refusing to issue statutory statements to some children.
Disabled and Supportive Carer, September 1999.

Due to the efforts of Newtown First School's Assessment Centre, seven-year-old Conor McMillan, who is autistic, can now attend mainstream classes. His mother Kathy paid tribute to the Centre: 'Newtown were brilliant. He started in the special language unit and gradually began to communicate through signs. He has become more aware of people around him now which is a problem many autistic children face'. At Newtown's Assessment Centre children stay in small groups for a few terms and are gradually integrated with other members of the school.
Exeter Leader, September 16, 1999.

For some children returning to school after the summer break is a big dread, but for pupils with dyslexia that dread can turn into a phobia. With that in mind, the British Dyslexia Association has launched its Back to School Campaign which aims to show the parents of dyslexic children what they can do to help make classrooms friendlier places. BDA chief executive, Joanne Rule, said: 'We want to make parents feel more confident that they can help dyslexic children and take the fear out of school. Without the right help dyslexic children can become school phobic. Headteachers can contact us for a resource pack on making the whole school dyslexia friendly'.
Newcastle Upon Tyne Evening Chronicle, September 17, 1999.

A public meeting is to be held in Hampton to discuss future plans for Oldfield House School, which caters for children with behavioural problems. Richmond Council's education department is considering reducing the service at the Hampton school and introducing children with emotional and behavioural problems into mainstream education. The department has carried out a wide-ranging consultation over the summer, seeking the views of parents and primary schools in the borough on the proposal. Parents with children at Oldfield House have expressed concern at the LEAs' plans and residents are worried over the potential development of the site.
Richmond Comet, September 24, 1999.

A secondary school in Fishponds is poised to become Bristol's first mainstream school to cater for older children with severe learning difficulties. Councillors were deciding whether Whitefield Fishponds Community School will admit special needs pupils aged from 11 to 18. The school will take in pupils from Briarwood special school in Fishponds, New Fosseway special school in Hengrove, and Henbury Manor School in Henbury which is due to close next summer. Teachers at Briarwood and New Fosseway School will transfer to Whitefield Fishponds. Some children will be taught in a specialist unit in Whitefield Fishponds and others may be taught in mainstream classes according to their needs.
Bristol Evening Post, September 30, 1999.

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Horton Lodge Community Special School, Rudyard, Cheshire, is hosting a pioneering course aimed at helping teachers support children with physical difficulties in mainstream schools. The post-graduate certificate is believed to be the first of its kind in Britain and has been endorsed by Education Secretary, David Blunkett. It grew out of the special school's links with several mainstream schools in Staffordshire and Cheshire. Horton Lodge's head teacher, Caroline Coles, then teamed up with University College, Northampton, and the course was born. Staffordshire County Council offered cash support.
Sentinel (Cheshire), October 1, 1999.

A Medway School which mixes able-bodied and disabled pupils has been praised by Ofsted inspectors. Twydall Infant School, Gillingham, was said to be integrating students effectively in the whole life of the school. The behaviour of the school's pupils and the quality of relationships were described as excellent. Head teacher, Sue Fedosiuk, was praised for her very good leadership and clear educational direction.
Km Extra (Medway), October 8, 1999.

More than 1,500 people have put their names to a petition to save a West Bromwich special school. Parents are calling on Sandwell Council to keep Glenvale School in Jervoise Street open. They are also demanding the education department rethink plans to reform the whole of special needs education in Sandwell. They claim the Council failed to take their views into consideration when it announced in August it was to close nine out of the borough's 11 special schools.
Dudley Express and Star, October 11, 1999.

As 1,000 pupils at Brigshaw High School in Leeds braved the elements for their sponsored walk, two Year 7 pupils went on a roll to raise some cash. Rachel Flint and Valerie Pyett, who are both wheelchair users, joined the school this term and were keen to do their bit to raise funds. So while their classmates trudged over fields they popped along to the gym where they rolled along mats for an hour, picking up balls and putting them in buckets on the way. Last year the annual event raised more than £7,000 and the school is hoping exceed that this year.
Yorkshire Evening Post (Leeds), October 11, 1999.

A South Hylton mother was celebrating today after winning her battle to get her son into a special needs school which was saved from the axe this summer. Jackie Watson wanted her four-year-old son John Kenny to go to Barbara Priestman School, Sunderland, because of the facilities there. But Sunderland Council said John should go to a specially equipped mainstream nursery in Oxclose, Washington. This was part of its policy to include special needs children in mainstream wherever possible. Now a Special Needs Tribunal has backed Ms. Watson saying there are simply not enough resources yet to deal with John at Oxclose. The Barbara Priestman chair of governors, Alan Share, warned that there may be about ten more similar cases yet to come.
Sunderland Echo, October 14, 1999.

Several parents have refused to send their children to the autistic spectrum disorder unit which opened last year at Castle Hill Primary School, in New Addingham. The unit was also criticised by Ofsted inspectors for its staffing provision in their July inspection report. But even though the school carried out a series of improvements over the summer holidays, the parents still refuse to send their children there, despite being impressed by the new facilities.
Coulsdon and Purley Advertiser, October 15, 1999.

Reading Council has launched a Disabled Children's Team dedicated to helping disabled children and their families. Initially based at Wellington House in Wokingham, it will bring together knowledge, expertise and information from diverse areas and disciplines, acting as a focal point for contact by parents, professionals and voluntary agencies. The aim is also to forge close working relationships with professionals from other agencies and to set up a register for children with disabilities to enable the team to gain a better understanding of needs in the district.
Reading Evening Post, October 18, 1999.

A Cradley Heath mother says she has been taken aback by support for her campaign to save Sandwell special schools. Mrs Dorothy Bennett launched her move earlier this month. It came after it was announced that Knowle Special School, which her son Christopher attends, will close along with eight other special units. Education officers have pledged that no child will be sent back to mainstream against their will. But Mrs Bennett says parents want to keep their children where they are.
Sandwell Express and Star, October 18, 1999.

Harrod's boss Mohammed Al Fayed has intervened to ensure that a profoundly deaf thirteen-year-old can be given the special schooling his family say he needs. Peter Schofield, who lives in Stroud, suffers from dyspraxia and language and social conduct disorders, but is very bright. For two years his parents have fought in vain to persuade Gloucestershire education authority to pay to send him to the acclaimed Mary Hare grammar school for the deaf in Newbury, Berkshire. The family have taken the matter to a Special Educational Needs Tribunal and even challenged the LEA in the High Court. But Gloucestershire education chiefs say that although they recognise Peter has serious difficulties, they believe he can succeed in a mainstream school with specialist support. But Mr Al Fayed was moved by Peter's plight and yesterday agreed to foot the £19,000 annual school fees for the teenager. Mr. Al Fayed has special reason to sympathise. His own son, Karim, 14, has been profoundly deaf since contracting meningitis when he was only six months old and attends Mary Hare School.
Western Daily Press (Bristol), October 25, 1999.

Classroom assistants working with children with special needs in Newcastle have passed a pioneering course. The 115 assistants employed at special and mainstream schools in the city were presented with certificates by special education needs review adviser, David Bennett. Newcastle was the first local authority in the country to run the nationally accredited course for specialist needs classroom assistants.
Newcastle Upon Tyne Evening Chronicle, October 25, 1999.

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The mother of a 22-year-old man who has autism has taken an unprecedented High Court Action in the Irish Courts claiming that the State has breached its constitutional obligation to provide free primary education for her son. She claims that for the first 18 years of his life Jamie Sinnott got no more than two years of what could be described as an education and as a result suffered and regressed. Catherine Sinnott, of Ballinhassig, Co Cork, was struck by the inequality of her son's education compared with that of her other non-handicapped children, according to her counsel, Mr Paul Sreenan SC.
The Irish Times, Dublin, November 3, 1999.

Andrew Griffin has a CV that any student would be proud of. He has O levels in English language, English literature and sociology, NVQs in business studies and information technology and City and Guilds qualifications in maths, communication, and computing. He has worked for disabled charities, been an office clerk, gained public speaking certificates, mastered spreadsheets, studied drama, completed a film-making course and a preliminary certificate in sports teaching. His latest success after two years studying at the Willesden Centre of the College of North West London is to gain maximum marks in his exams in English, Politics of Race and Gender, sociology and study skills. A learning support assistant said: ‘Andrew fitted in brilliantly and the students were wonderfully supportive. They were much more understanding of people with disabilities afterwards.’
Brent and London Recorder, November 3, 1999.

Education for disabled children in Scotland's schools was branded a ‘form of apartheid’ by campaigners yesterday. They told MSPs that the Scottish Executive's proposed Improvement of Education Bill ignored what they called segregation in school – the current practice of sending disabled and special needs children to specialist establishments. The Equal Opportunities Committee which has been hearing evidence related to the Bill was told that 15 per cent of Scotland’s children were educated outside mainstream schools. Campaigners from the Edinburgh-based group Equity said the system perpetuated discrimination because able-bodied and disabled children did not grow up together.
Aberdeen Press and Journal, November 3, 1999.

Councillors are expected to sound the death knell for a special school. The controversial closure of Thornhill Special School is expected to be confirmed by Hartlepool Council as part of Government plans to integrate special needs children into mainstream education. The majority of younger pupils are expected to transfer to the town’s Grange Primary School, while older pupils will attend a special resource centre at High Tunstall School.
Hartlepool Mail, November 4, 1999.

A disabled boy who won his fight to be allowed to go to school with his friends has celebrated his first year at Whitehaven School in Cumbria. Ryan Redmond, 12, of Hensingham, had been told that because of scoliosis and dietary problems he would be unable to attend Whitehaven and should go to a specially equipped school in Workington. But Ryan and his parents were determined that his disabilities should not be a stumbling block so they took their case to a Special Educational Needs Tribunal. Head teacher, Stan Aspinall, said: ‘Ryan has settled in well at the school and managed to achieve a 75 per cent attendance rate. The education authority wanted him him to go to a specially adapted facility but he was against that and has shown that in come cases schools can meet the demands of pupils with physical problems.’
News and Star (West Cumbrian), November 8, 1999.

The mother of twins, Brad and Brent Gammon, 5, has kept them off school after learning that education chiefs plan to split up the boys with one attending a special language unit in Dartford and the other going to Higham County Primary School. A statutory assessment by Kent County Council found that Brad had special educational needs but that Brent could cope with mainstream education. Gravesham MP, Chris Pond, said he had written to the county council to find out why the boys’ problems had not been dealt with more sensitively.
Kent Today, November 11, 1999

Gloucestershire County Council’s plan for integrating special educational needs children into mainstream schools has been revised after an extensive consultation with parents, teachers, governors and support workers throughout the county over the last few months. Changes include more detail about how SEN children will be supported in mainstream schools and how that support will be funded. The plan is to close the county's four special schools and shift funding to provide for SEN chldren in mainstream education, particularly at primary level, to address needs as early as possible. Dr Steve Huggett, head of SEN, said: ‘There has been a mistaken view that this review has been abut cutting costs but we are actually investing more in special education than ever before and as a council we are comitteed to continuing that level of funding. This review is about how we spend the money so that children with moderate learning difficulties get the best possible deal.’
Gloucester Citizen, November 13, 1999.

Parents of disabled or disruptive children will gain new rights to send their children to mainstream schools in one of two education bills announced yesterday. The Special Educational Needs Bill aims to speed up decisions about the education of children with physical, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Local authorities will be obliged to set up conciliation to spare parents lengthy legal proceedings to win their choice of schooling. Disputes over the education of children with special educational needs are the largest source of complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman.
The Times, November 18, 1999.

People with disabilities in Ireland could organise themselves into a lobby of one million advocates for change, a conference in Waterford was told yesterday. Mr Brian Crowley, the Fianna Fail MEP, called on the various groups representing disabled people to put aside sectional interests to pursue priority aims. He was speaking at the European conference, ‘New Perspectives, Disability and Employment’, at which the keynote address was delivered by the US civil rights lawyer, Mr Edward Kennedy Junior, who said disabled people were our ‘greatest untapped resource’. Mr Kennedy said society's attitude to people with disabilities was the biggest barrier they faced. Medical models of disadvantage needed to be replaced by social models.
The Irish Times, Dublin, November 19, 1999.

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Sunderland education chiefs have enlisted outside help to get their special needs shake-up right second time round. The Government rejected Sunderland Council’s first shake-up earlier this year, after objections from governors and parents at Barbara Priestman School. The Council has now brought in former school inspector John Elliot to give advice. In a report to the education sub-committee, education director, Dr John Williams, says an outside review is now timely. ‘There would clearly be advantages in this being carried out by somebody who had not been involved in the review process to date. This appealed to the governors of Barbara Priestman, who are keen to clarify the school’s future role within the city’s special needs provision.’
Sunderland Echo, December 1, 1999.

Pupils with statements of special educational needs for specific learning difficulties (dyslexia) placed in mainstream schools are making at least satisfactory progress, says Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) in a report. According to the report, dyslexic pupils who obtain additional specialist help for the greatest possible time before transfer to secondary school are less likely to experience emotional problems. Some schools are taking too long to give pupils a formal assessment which is wasting pupils’ time and lowering their confidence. The quality of teaching and support or dyslexic pupils is satisfactory in 94 per cent of lessons in primary schools and 90 per cent in secondary. The quality of teaching and support is often good or very good and occasionally excellent.
Education Today, December 8, 1999.

Calderdale Council has been criticised for proposing to save £30,000 a year by cutting support for pupils with special educational needs. In a letter to the editor, Jane Wainwright says: ‘Have they any idea of the problems and upset this will cause to children, parents and teachers? Why is it that when the Council has to make cuts the children have to suffer? Calderdale used to be known for its policy of placing children with special needs in mainstream schools, but now it seems to be going against its beliefs.’
Halifax Evening Courier, December 9, 1999.

Protesters caused four hours of chaos outside a specially resourced secondary school after it refused admission to a girl with cerebral palsy because she is ‘too disabled’. Zahrah Manuel, 11, who lives in West Hampstead, London, has disabilities which affect her movement. Despite recommendations by Camden Council for her to attend Whitefield School in Claremont Road, Cricklewood, the school has refused her admission claiming it does not have the resources to meet her needs. Campaigners from the Alliance for Inclusive Education, which fights for disabled children to be included in mainstream schools, congregated outside Whitefield which recently benefited from £750,000 to make it accessible to physically disabled students. Zahrah and her mother Preethi attended the demo which co-incided with the first full governors’ meeting of the term. Outraged head teacher, Barbara Howe, said it was no coincidence that the date for the demo co-incided with the meeting.
Hendon and Finchley Times, December 9, 1999.

Harrow children with physical disabilities and learning difficulties are to be integrated further than ever into mainstream schools. The new plans were made public only a day after schools’ watchdog Ofsted published a damning report on Whittlesea Special School in Harrow Weald. The programme which is expected to take between five and ten years to implement, would involve improving access and disabled facilities in a number of mainstream schools as well as recruiting specialist teachers to mainstream schools to teach special needs children. Head of schools and community services, Michael Hart, said: ‘This is an attempt to update our policy of ensuring that as many special needs children as possible are catered for in the borough’s mainstream schools. It is not a total revamping of Harrow’s provision for special needs children’.
Harrow Observer, December 9, 1999.

In Ireland measures to meet the special educational needs of children with disabilities, including autistic children, were approved by the Government after the Minister for Education and Science warned they were necessary to avoid the likelihood of further litigation by parents of such children, including claims for damages, it has emerged in the High Court. In a memorandum for Government the Minister said: ‘The inadequacies of current special education services are now being exposed in the High Court on an almost daily basis. In virtually every case, the State is being found to have failed in its obligation under Article 42 of the Constitution to provide for free primary education for all children.’
Irish Independent (Dublin), December 18, 1999.

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