Special needs don't end at 16

3rd December 2004 at 00:00
It was a striking coincidence that the announcement by the Learning and Skills Council of a review of post-16 provision for people with special educational needs was juxtaposed with the article (page 2) on the valuable work of the Ashbury care home (FE Focus, November 19).

It is always moving to read the testimonies of elderly people who were randomly institutionalised in the mid-20th century with the assumption that they were incapable of learning. The shock that so many people's lives could have been curtailed so casually should alert us to the continuing lack of access to adequate learning and social experiences for adults with severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties.

It is striking and contradictory that while significant statutory funding guarantees quality educational provision for special needs in our mainstream schools, when a young person with significant learning needs goes to cross the bridge to adulthood, they and their families find there is almost nothing there on the other side.

While this review is most welcome, perhaps there needs to be a more fundamental reflection on our attitudes to adults with learning difficulties. It is not enough to build a child's abilities up at school - we have a duty to follow through into adulthood.

Phil Goss 22 Ruskin Drive Kirkby Lonsdale Carnforth, Lancashire

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