Robbing Peterto pay Paul

31st March 2006 at 01:00
Your headline, "Support staff fall into black hole" (March 17), gives due prominence to the problem of ensuring that ring-fenced funding is spent in the areas intended.

It is a measure of the real attitude of the educational and political establishments that the chronic and ongoing diversion of funds for children with special educational needs should fail to receive the necessary scrutiny.

Until such time as proper enforcement is made of ring-fenced SEN funding, local authorities will continue to divert these funds to those areas deemed worthy of investment.

With proper enforcement, my own authority would then have to justify its past decisions - such as, in the case of my child's nursery year, not to spend pound;72,000 of Scottish Executive "ring-fenced" funding on classroom assistants for children with SEN. This resulted in at least one autistic child being taught in a mainstream class of 30 on the same basis as children without any SEN.

Of course, it is difficult for any professional without a professional qualification in autism to appreciate the isolating effect upon a child who has severe impairments in social interaction and communication and who is denied the one-to-one support which is a basic prerequisite in meeting his need for early intervention.

Professionals will always struggle to make the right decisions in the absence of the "core values" of compassion and responsibility - values which the best professionals carry with them into the teaching profession, without the need for further expenditure on training courses or foreign junkets.

SEN funding will cease to disappear down the proverbial black hole if the authorities enforce the distribution of these funds on the basis that it is a real investment, not a bottomless pit.

Fiona Sinclair Arran View, Dunure Ayrshire

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