Support more widely spread

16th March 2001 at 00:00
IT is with great interest that we at Kelvin School have followed national developments since the publication of the Riddell report. Like our colleagues in the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, we recognise the need for specialist provision and, like them, we endeavour to be inclusive in our approach.

As a school for those children with visual impairment who require intensive support, we at Kelvin School in Glasgow have many identical concerns to those voiced by Kevin Tansley, principal of the Royal Blind School.

Historically, the Royal Blind School has been pioneering in its work for children with visual impairment but the Scottish Executive's proposal to redistribute its 70 per cent subsidy more equitably across local authorities could mean that many more children across Scotland benefit from this grant.

The Royal Blind School would be able to continue its excellent work on a commercial footing.There are now other centres of excellence in the field of visual impairment and the redistributed funds could help to ensure a much more equitable service across the country.

For a number of years now, Glasgow's education authority has shown its commitment to providing quality education in the field of visual impairment. Despite the social deprivation that exists in the city and the legacy of old buildings which puts a great constraint on budgets, developments are well established in the education of these children.

Before the Riddell committee was even formed, Glasgow had moved ahead in its provision for children with visual impairment and is to be applauded in regard to its "vision for the future".

Specialist provision with an inclusive ethos has been retained in the city where this is deemed necessary and support for pupils within mainstream establishments has already been built up at Darnley primary and Penilee Secondary.

The sensory support srvice provides necessary help to those pupils with visual impairment who are able to access provision in their local school. A visual impairment assessment team meets regularly to discuss placements and issues to do with the development of the city's services for children with visual impairment.

Multidisciplinary approaches are an integral feature of this service. Glasgow's specialist provision in the field of visual impairment is already accessed by neighbouring authorities.

While sympathising with the fears raised by colleagues in those schools with national status and funding, I believe we could be on the brink of new and exciting developments with the proposed redistribution of funding.

Glasgow is already involved in research and development work in the field of visual impairment and, just as in the Royal Blind School, our local authority supports the training of teachers in a variety of ways, and visiting teachers from abroad also come to enhance their knowledge as happens in Edinburgh.

Within our local authority setting, there is a rich tapestry of support available to our schools through the city's education support service and productive links have been forged with health, social services and voluntary organisations such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Children with severe low incidence disabilities undoubtedly require highly specialised provision. Wherever possible, we would endeavour to meet the needs of these children through specialist provision as near to home as possible so that these children may continue to live at home and enjoy the benefits of family life.

It can only be to the benefit of such children if authorities like Glasgow have additional funding available to take forward the work for which the city has already shown a firm commitment.

Patricia Gribbin Headteacher, Kelvin School, Glasgow

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