Do not neglect the disabled

10th June 2005 at 01:00
We are still in the shadow of Adult Learners' Week and some of my worst fears are being realised as educational provision for those with learning difficulties or disabilities is cut.

The Learning and Skills Council still conducts bogus reviews of services only to find the blatantly obvious - that provision falls significantly short of demand.

Nationally, specialist education for this group of needy learners is in decline. Combine this disgraceful situation with the abuse of part-time and fractional staff who are woefully underpaid, not always fully trained or experienced to deliver specialised courses, and provided with poor resources to enhance learning for this marginalised group.

Further education has always been the poor relation of special schools. No wonder learners and their families insist on staying on at school rather than leaving at 16 to pursue education elsewhere.

At the very least, there should a guaranteed minimum level of services for all post-16 learners who have learning difficulties.

There should also be access to relevant education, training and social, leisure and recreational programmes.

We should continue to celebrate adult learning in all its forms, but perhaps we should also expose the Government's shirking, avoidance and prevarication over disabled learners.

Len Parkyn

Head of Cherry Trees Further Education Centre

104 Lyndhurst Road

Brighton and Hove City

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