A failure to consult and communicate on special needs

4th April 2003 at 01:00
The accusation by govern-ment civil servants that the campaigning group Record of Needs Alert (RoNA) is a "vocal min-ority" is somewhat absurd (TESS, March 14).

It is increasingly becoming known that a tiny minority of parents have been informed of the draft Bill on additional support needs.

At a local special needs forum which I attended, only two parents out of the entire gathering of about 60 parents of special needs children had been informed by their child's headteacher about the Bill or its consultation.

This forum was held two weeks from the end of the 10-week consultation period, so neither local authorities nor schools are informing parents of children with records of needs about a Bill that seeks to revolutionise their children's education.

Gauging the views of other parents is made extremely difficult, when they do not have a copy of the draft Bill and when those parents who have studied the wording of the Bill are not permitted to open up discussion beyond the Government's hype.

It may well be "off-message" to state that this draft Bill removes the duty of local authorities formally to assess children who have special educational needs, but this can easily be confirmed by anyone with even a basic command of the English language, by referring to paragraphs 13 and 22 of the draft Bill itself.

Dr Mike Gibson of the Scottish Executive may well assert that Scottish ministers would never do such a thing. I would hope, therefore, that he will be swift to enlighten them of these, and other errors, contained in the draft Bill.

The Executive has claimed that it has widely publicised the draft Bill and its consultation. The main thrust of this publicity was supposed to be through national and local papers (all of which failed to translate it into newsprint) and through schools, many of which were not notified themselves.

Fiona Sinclair

Arran View

Dunure

Ayrshire

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