Included out

11th July 2003 at 01:00
Congratulations to Gordon Jeyes, of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, for speaking out this week on behalf of the children of Kurdish asylum seekers held at Dungavel detention centre in South Lanarkshire for almost a year.

Adding the voice of Scotland's education establishment to that of leading church figures serves to highlight the ridiculous situation where the authorities in Scotland seem unable to protect vulnerable children on their own soil - the very ones who are supposedly at the heart of the Executive's rhetoric.

HMI has visited Dungavel and made its submission to a prisons inspectorate report on the detention centre, which has now been delayed. Robert Brown, convener of the Parliament's cross-party education committee, expressed his concerns for the children's welfare last month, only to be reminded by Peter Peacock, the Education Minister, that these were reserved matters.

All roads, it appears, lead to the Home Office. But is there no room for compassion? Can no concession be made to protect the human rights of children in the new inclusive Scotland, and allow them to attend mainstream schools with other children?

The problem appears to be that the Ay family of mother and four children aged eight to 14 have a record of absconding. Mr Jeyes suggests a risk assessment to see if the children could be escorted to and from school.

What we need now is that kind of imaginative thinking.

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