It is with surprise and regret that the Scottish Association for Visual Impairment Education has learnt of the Scottish Government's decision to remove pound;200,000 of funding from the Scottish Sensory Centre at the Moray House campus, Edinburgh University. Teachers of the visually impaired across Scotland have expressed their concern to us that such a valuable resource may be forced to close from June, unless alternative funding is made available.
The centre is the hub for teacher training in visual impairment, hearing impairment, and multiple disabilities and visual impairment. As well as hosting the statutory postgraduate qualification in visual impairment (VI), with the university, it provides continuing professional development and visual impairment conferences, and disseminates research.
The centre promotes a multi-professional approach to teaching and learning and is used by educationalists, health professionals, voluntary organisations, parents and the young people themselves through VI Scotland. It recognises the need for collaboration across the full spectrum of provision, from mainstream to special schools and can give independent and impartial support.
Its closure would have a negative impact on the future of visual impairment education and could lead to young people not receiving specialist support to develop the skills and strategies necessary for greater independence in later life.
During this period of financial austerity, the SSC courses offer best value for local government expenditure. The removal of any subsidy may lead to a rise in course fees and a reduction in the quantity and quality of courses. Higher fees could lead to a fall in participation as councils seek to cut CPD costs. The long-term harm would be irreparable.
Until some justification can be made for the removal of funding, andor an alternative found, the SSC should continue to serve as it has thus far, commendably.
Dominic Everett, Chair, SAVIE.