Parents go to court over carers

14th September 2001 at 01:00
PARENTS of a five-year-old boy in Coupar Angus are set to take their local authority to court after it cut its support for pupils with special educational needs.

They will be the first in Scotland to confront a council over its alleged failure to meet its duties on special educational needs, stiffened by recent legislation on inclusion.

Meanwhile, parents and opposition politicians in Scottish Borders are fighting to restore a pound;200,000 cut in auxiliary help, designed to bring the SEN budget back into line with projections.

Kate Noble, the Coupar Angus parent, said she was determined to press ahead after her authority axed the contracts of 29 training and care assistants (TCAs). Children with particular difficulties, such as her son, Douglas, needed the close support provided by assistants if they were to flourish in mainstream schools. Her son is in an SEN base with eight other children.

Mrs Noble said: "We are not going to drop the case. This must never happen to another child in Scotland ever again. The basic right to education is being taken away from them and all we want is for this to be put right."

Paul Noble, her husband, said: "It's the most vulnerable in society that are picked on."

A spontaneous protest group of parents emerged last month following the council's cost-cutting measure. Eighty parents attended a meeting in Perth, Mrs Noble said.

A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross said it was aware of parents' concerns. "This is primarily an education matter rather than a legal one. We cannot comment on actions which the public may take on legal matters," she said.

In the meantime, the authority is to review the provision of assistants and has promised to consult with parents and schools before reporting in December.

The council has now restored one of the posts at Coupar Angus primary but only until December. Mrs Noble said that the council had changed its system over the summer, moving from allocating assistants to a particular child to a particular school.

"This was purely for cost reasons, and that has been said categorically by the council," she said.

Leader, page 24

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