'Attack on the vulnerable' challenged by parents

6th April 2012 at 01:00
Scottish Parent Teacher Council sets out its priorities for local elections

Additional support needs, underused schools and illiteracy are among the Scottish Parent Teacher Council's top priorities for the local government elections on 3 May.

"Parents report that services for young people with additional support needs have been an early victim of financial pressures," the SPTC states in its local government manifesto. "We believe this is an unacceptable attack on those children who are most vulnerable."

Those who suffer are not only disabled children, it stresses, but others with additional needs.

The SPTC sees reduced special-needs budgets as part of a wider trend for cuts that have "gone beyond efficiency savings" and are "impacting directly on the delivery of core education services".

It demands that "no child's education be compromised, no matter the financial pressures upon schools or local authorities, and that the rights of all young people and parents are honoured".

The concerns echo those of Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, whose own local government manifesto called for more classroom assistants and administrative support in this area, and demanded that local authorities show more commitment to training specialist teachers.

The union wants continuing professional development for all staff on the implications of the Additional Support for Learning Act - an issue highlighted in this week's News Focus - as well as funding for nursery teachers to improve early intervention, and protection for educational psychologist posts.

The SPTC also bemoans the sight of many gleaming new schools with the lights turned off after school hours.

Such schools must be "at the centre of our communities, not sterile commercial buildings which add nothing to the spirit of the communities in which they reside".

The SPTC is concerned that illiteracy levels "continue to be unacceptably high and are often symptomatic of further issues at school, home and in the wider community".

It is frustrated, too, that parental involvement "is not consistently implemented and respected" in Scotland.

The manifesto criticises prevailing notions of health and safety: "Our focus on risk rather than benefit places our children in a dangerous place where their personal freedom, mental and physical development and health are impaired, and where adults are seen first and foremost as a risk."

Parents' frustration about communication and relationships between national and local government is also clear: "They feel the buck is passed back and forth, with children stuck in the middle."


Key SPTC facts

The SPTC is a charitable body representing parents and carers in Scottish state education. It draws members from 2,000 schools. It provides schools with practical and financial support, and parents with advice, training and insurance services.

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