Excluded from the real world

18th March 2005 at 00:00
No one could fail to know that Charles Gray has been a distinguished elected council member for many years . None the less, could I suggest to him that he might , if only for a moment, try to put himself in the position of a distressed parent trying to get the best for their special needs child, and forget that they can seem to him and his officials, as he put it, "inadequately informed and unrealistic" (TESS, last week).

He would then quickly realise that the inevitable priorities of local authorities, education officials and councillors - no matter how well motivated - do not always match those of ordinary people who increasingly feel alienated from the so called "real world" that he inhabits.

Councillor Gray and I would, I am sure, agree that the best education is determinedly child-centred. I am happy to accept that most local authority education officials believe the same and work to achieve it, often in difficult circumstances.

However, when our must vulnerable children are the focus of our concern, we must never fail to find the right education for them, even if that is not the education that is immediately to hand. I would certainly support Councillor Gray in his desire to secure appropriate funding from the Scottish Executive for that task. I would also support him in applying a balanced policy which includes a substantial degree of mainstreaming, where appropriate .

What I would not do is appeal to the shortcomings of "the real world", in order to excuse failures to fund. Such an attitude explains a great deal of the anger of such parents and their growing campaign for justice.

Michael Russell Feorlean, Glendaruel, Argyll

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