Parent power fails to account for special needs

2nd April 2010 at 01:00

If Education Secretary Michael Russell intends to "talk up the Swedish system" and take more account of parental perspectives, as The TESS reported on March 19, he must address one of those and deal with discrimination against children with disabilities.

The school system south of the border already permits parents to set up their own schools. But a barrier has been placed in the way of one particular group of parents - those of children with special educational needs.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families in Whitehall has ruled that schools planning to specialise in educating children with autistic spectrum disorder, for instance, are "selective", and therefore breach the criteria for establishing parent-run schools. Would Mr Russell take a similar view?

There are no mandatory educational standards for children with disabilities in Scotland.

If cost is the issue, we could cut the number of education authorities in Scotland, limit education departments to a small number of officials and cull the wider "quangocracy" whose added value for children with disabilities is imperceptible. At least some of the resulting savings could then be ploughed back into frontline services.

Fiona Sinclair, Arran View, Dunure, Ayrshire.

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