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Fresh start for troubled Craighalbert

Moves to overhaul provision at the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld, Scotland's only specialist conductive education centre, have been welcomed by Strathclyde. Most of the centre's 35 pupils come from the region.

A meeting on Tuesday of Craighalbert's new board, chaired by George Gordon, former head of the schools' inspectorate in the west of Scotland, agreed over the next six months to review every area of the centre's activities, including marketing, the curriculum and contact with parents.

David Alexander, senior depute director of education in Strathclyde, said the review was long overdue and would be welcomed by staff and parents. "The centre needs to consider outreach as a more serious issue and against the background of local government reform this will be something they will have to address, " Mr Alexander said.

Costs at the centre, which opened five years ago, are considerably higher than mainstream schools or centres which take pupils with cerebral palsy. With the new single-tier councils under financial pressure, Mr Alexander suggested, placings may fall away.

The centre had therefore to establish relationships with the new councils and parents to ensure its future. Some parents had to travel long distances to reach the Cumbernauld base or go into residence. This was a problem if they had other children.

Mr Gordon, who is to spend a day a week on centre business, said the board's meeting had been "fruitful" and had studied the recommendations of a Scottish Office evaluation carried out by Gilbert MacKay of Strathclyde University.

"We were all agreed that after five years it was time to look where we are going," he said. "We have got to look at the marketing of the centre and tell people about the good work it does."

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