GSSPL Launches National Campaign

For a long time many members of the GSSPL had felt that a campaign at the  national level would be needed to prevent the culling of special schools in the  name of inclusion. The Government clearly had inclusion on its agenda and the  presumptive stance, in the lack of any other authoritative or cohesive voice,  has taken inclusion as the norm. This guidance had largely directed the  Adjudicators decision in relation to the closure of Bownham Park MLD special  school.

Following recent media releases by the Audit Office and CSIE (the Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education), the former bringing into question the effectiveness of inclusion and the later falsely intimating representation for all special needs and repeating its clarion call for the abolition of all  special schools in the name of human rights. We thought enough was enough.

The whole inclusion agenda has become a misdirected moral crusade, confusing least restrictive environments and civil rights with a familiar nod in the direction of racial and ethnic rights and the politically correct lobby. The physically disabled lobby has for too long over dominated any debate in this  matter, aided and abetted by labels and descriptions that are overly generalised and dangerously misleading. We acknowledge that there are relatively few significant reasons for segregating children simply because they have a physical impairment, but this reckless simplification cannot and must not be drawn for  all SEN children, especially those with comprehension or intellectual learning difficulties.

It should be patently clear to anyone involved in education that the overriding right should be to ensure each child was able to participate in an education appropriate to its ability. That this should be in a secure, happy and productive environment that was most conducive to their individual needs and  that the significance of mainstream or special school was not the principle factor.

That is why we trying to form a national body / register to represent those  who appreciate and value specialist provision for special needs children. While  we could accept a presumption towards mainstream we cannot accept the culling and extermination of special schools in the pursuance of inclusion.

At this time we are asking for the submission to us of individual contact  details of those of you who support this stance. We will utilise this information to set up a data base that will hopefully be the foundation for a  nationally representative body. Any personal information submitted will be treated in confidence and will not be passed on to a third party for any  financial or unrelated reason.

In the interim period we urge everyone to write to their local MP, the Minister for Education and the Prime Minister mentioning the article in the Telegraph and the Sunday Times or wherever else information relating to this campaign appears and inform them of the GSSPL, your concerns and accord with our  core beliefs. Ask them what they can and will do to redress the closure and loss of special schools in the name of inclusion. Do this now and ask friends and  family to do the same. We can remain silent no  longer.

Great Response to National Campaign

Since the appearance of the articles in the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times, we have had a great response not just from all over the country, but also abrod. Our biggest surprise was being contacted by a group of parents from New Zealand, who have been battling their government with some success over SEN Policy (further details on Other Views). Congratulations to the Dudley Special Schools Protection League, who are now in discussions with their local LEA. We have also established links with groups fighting similar battles in Oxfordshire and Dorset. In Lancashire parents fighting special school closesures have launched a Save Our Special Schools website with the aim of collating information about all special schools under threat.

Another very useful set of contacts are those with academics and other organisations supporting children with learning difficulties and disabilities. Particularly valuable has been the access to many more research papers and articles which will provide valuable assistance in making submissions to the LEA and the Schools Organisation Committee. We have included exerts from these in our Other Views section and also new links on our Links pages.

There have also been significant although unrelated developments locally. The long awaited first briefing session with LEA Officers finally took place. This proved to be a quite productive meeting in which were able to explore areas of agreement as well as points of contention. We were particularly pleased to hear, that they are planning to change the way in which LSWs are employed to support children in included placements in line with what we have been advocating for sometime. This should enable schools to use the support more flexibility and hopefully effectively.

Friday 17th January also saw a lot of political activity in the area. During the day some members of the shadow education team paid a visit to Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury. Elanor Laing the Conservative Spokesperson on SEN was very impressed with the work of the school and pledged her support to keeping it open.

In the evening GSSPL Chairman Graham Barton was one of three guest speakers invited to address a debate at Gloucester City Labour Party on SEN provision in the county.  He received a warm reception from the party rank and file many of whom expressed concern with the policy being pursed by the County Council. As a result the party is now planning further meetings to discuss the party’s policy on this issue.


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