'A matter of swings and roundabouts'

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
The shape of things to come may be reflected in a recent placing request for a child to move from Richmond Park School, a special school in Glasgow for pupils with physical impairments. It was refused by East Renfrewshire and the decision upheld on appeal.

The child would have needed a special needs assistant (around pound;15,000), 0.2 of a support teacher (pound;6,000), plus additional equipment such as furniture. "We had to refuse it," Mr Fraser said.

The code of practice attached to the new Act provides for a dispute between authorities over funding to be referred to Scottish ministers. But, according to Mr Fraser, one referral in December 2003 has still to be resolved.

Kenneth Macintosh, MSP for Eastwood, is calling on the Scottish Executive to make clear in a formal statement to local authorities its expectation that they make the appropriate funding contribution in cross-border placings.

"The whole point of the code of practice and the new Act was that they were supposed to defuse confrontation and be a move away from parents and schools and authorities in conflict to one where they were all working together in the child's best interests," Mr Macintosh said.

Margaret Orr, head of special needs at Glasgow City Council, said that the code was clear that funding went to the residential authority. Glasgow had taken extensive legal advice and it was clear that under the new Act responsibility lay with the authority which maintained the school the child attended.

Exceptions were made in the case of children in care who were placed by local authorities outside their boundaries. But, where parents had chosen to make a request for their child to be educated in another authority, it was the educating authority that had to meet the extra costs.

Ms Orr said: "It is a question of swings and roundabouts. We have all got children with different degrees of additional support needs in our schools under placing request legislation."``

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