Making a stand for the disabled

9th July 2004 at 01:00
Due to the lack of adequate funding, the Government has instructed the Learning and Skills Council to implement cuts that effectively wipe out provision for people with severe and profound learning difficulties.

We have been told that colleges have been advised to cut funding from students with learning difficulties and disabilities courses and concentrate on getting students into university.

Students with more complex needs who would find it difficult or impossible to combine the vertical ladder of progression, must either fund their own courses or be deprived of an education.

The implications of this new policy will be devastating for our students and the consequences will seriously affect the community. This vulnerable group could be left without educational provision as the cost would be beyond most. It would also put unbearable pressure on the financial resources of the agencies involved in caring for these people.

It begs the question, "What of equality of opportunity and the basic right of everyone to an education?"

I have been teaching students with special needs for 10 years and in that time I have been privileged to be a part of a team of dedicated tutors and support staff who are committed to enabling our students to achieve. We teach vocational and social skills as well as basic skills and we encourage our students to make appropriate choices and decisions as well as promoting self-confidence and raising self-esteem.

The skills minister Ivan Lewis was quoted as saying recently: "Of course you need more money, but the sector has got to get off its knees and stop being the victim."

Well I for one will do all I can to fight this new policy and try to protect my students from this arbitrary and unjust policy - as one student said "on behalf of many students who have not the ability to get off their knees".

Shirley Lewis 8 Kenelm Court Leominster, Herefordshire

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