Northern Ireland - Protest to save special school

22nd May 2009 at 01:00

Supporters of an independent special needs school have been campaigning in Stormont against its closure. Representatives of the Buddy Bear Trust met Assembly members from the Northern Ireland Executive's health committee, asking them to provide the Pounds 200,000 that was pledged by the Assembly in February last year.

Caitriona Ruane, the education minister, told the trust in April the money was not available. Brendan McConville, its chair, said: "We asked the members of the health committee: is democracy a myth in Northern Ireland? If the Assembly agree on something, how can one minister deny it?

"Bureaucratic red tape is holding special needs pupils back across Northern Ireland."

The Buddy Bear School in Dungannon is the only one in Northern Ireland that provides conductive education, which teaches pupils with movement disabilities such as cerebral palsy how to improve co-ordination and achieve greater independence.

Last month's annual NASUWT conference heard that cuts to special needs in Northern Ireland had caused widespread social and behavioural problems. MR.

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