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Changing the fabric of schools

David Henderson reports on the implications for mainstreaming of the findings by HMI and Audit Scotland

AROUND 85 per cent of primaries and 75 per cent of secondaries are not accessible to pupils with physical disabilities and 42 per cent of all schools will need extensive refurbishment to meet the new demands, according to senior education officials.

"Of equal importance, but not yet quantified, is the extent to which facilities for pupils with sensory impairment need to be improved, for example, the need for noise reduction mechanisms for pupils with hearing impairments," the report states.

On average, adapting primaries could cost around pound;15,000 a school and pound;100,000 for secondaries. More significant building work could run to pound;500,000 for a primary and pound;1.5 million for a secondary spread over 20 years.

Running costs will depend on how many more pupils are involved but case studies have shown that transferring a pupil from a special school could cost as little as pound;1,000 more but as much as pound;30,000 more for a pupil with profound learning difficulties. "For some pupils the cost may be substantially higher," the inquiry notes.

The biggest cost is likely to be additional support staff.

In a scathing aside, most public private partnership (PPP) schools are said to have paid scant regard to disability groups during consultations on construction. There were no dedicated therapy rooms in the four PPP schools visited. Balfron High in Stirling is an exception.

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