Let's talk call on special schools

20th April 2001 at 01:00
The controversial funding of the seven national special schools is to be discussed soon at a meeting called by Nicol Stephen, Deputy Minister for Education. Mr Stephen announced his decision in the Executive's response to the report on special needs by the Parliament's education committee last February.

The future of the schools, which include Donaldson's College for the Deaf and the Royal Blind School, was the most politically contentious part of the MSPs' report. Brian Monteith, the Conservative representative, said that the committee had ignored the threat posed by the Riddell committee in 1999 when it suggested that central government funding be reallocated to local authorities which would then pay economic fees for pupils they sent o the schools.

Mr Stephen says that the current system is guaranteed until next year. A longer term solution had been postponed until the MSPs reported.

Their report defined inclusive education as "maximising the participation of all children in mainstream schools and removing environmental, structural and attitudinal barriers to their participation".

Mr Stephen says that is "a welcome contribution to the debate", but it would be difficult to secure a commonly agreed definition. He adds:

"Ministers have demonstrated their strong commitment to maximising the participation of children in mainstream schools both in the Standards in Scotland's Schools Act and in funding through the Executive's inclusion programme."

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