Where 'no cuts to special needs' hurt the most

31st August 2001 at 01:00
John Christie, the Scottish Borders director of education (now renamed lifelong learning, app-arently) seems to think that the more frequently he states that "there are no cuts to special needs" the more he will be believed.

Scottish Borders Council is playing a game with semantics: technically, the budget for auxiliary staff does not come under special needs provision. So John Christie is able to use this smokescreen when he states that "there have been no cuts to special needs." pound;200,000 was cut from auxiliary staffing before the other cuts were announced. These cuts remain in place, and have a devastating impact on special needs provision. As do cuts in transport.

Since pupils returned to school in Scottish Borders last week, BEE (Borders Equality in Education, of which I am a member) has received phone calls from distraught parents of children with special needs, whose auxiliary support has been cut. How can teachers implement inclusion within mainstream schooling when this crucial provision has been withdrawn? Many of these children have records of needs - legal documents which state a required level of support within the classroom.

Scottish Borders Council is ignoring these legal documents, and is grossly misrepresenting the truth of the situation to the public and the press. Hence the misleading comment that "a proposal to reduce resources for special needs pupils was withdrawn after public protest".

Such disgraceful distortion of reality will only fuel the protest among parents within Scottish Borders.

Gerda Stevenson Carlops Peeblesshire

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