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Lifeline for national special schools

The seven national special schools that are fighting to retain their status have been assured their funds are safe for the coming financial year.

Karen Gillon, convener of the Scottish Parliament's education, culture and sport committee, told the schools' representatives on Tuesday that Jack McConnell, Education Minister, had pledged further support. Pupils would be able to take up places as normal next session.

Mr McConnell promised that future decisions would be taken in consultation with each of the schools.

Janet Alan, principal of Donaldson's College, the specialist school for the deaf in Edinburgh, told MSPs national schools would be asked to pick up children who could not cope in mainstream schools, once the inclusion policy was operating fully.

Kevin Tansley, principal of the Royal Blind School in the capital, called for the special needs advisory forum to look at criteria to secure the continuation of the schools. These would include national training, support to parents, research and development of new teaching techniques.

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