Recently I wrote a piece titled “Where did all the money go?” in which I commented on the amount of money that has been spent on creating Academies. I wasn’t criticising the Academy movement, more just commenting on how much it had cost at a time when money is obviously in short supply.
Anyway, I then received this comment back. The writer wishes to remain anonymous and I am always happy to oblige with such requests. I hope you find it as interesting, and indeed as moving, as I did.
The “achievements” of the Academy policy sound very grand, but one issue that does not seen to have had the attention that it deserves it that of children who do not fit the “standard” mould.
I have some friends who have an eight-year-old daughter who has profound problems. She had a stroke before she was born and in addition to mobility difficulties, plus an number of other issues, she also has regular fits. She can walk in a somewhat ungainly way and is in general a very happy little girl. Academically she is several years behind her chronological age and is not able to function in a mainstream class without considerable support.
In the past this support would have been provided by the local authority, but as we know, this is now the responsibility of the school. Support for this child was formerly provided, but the school has told the parents that this must now come to an end.
The parents were quite devastated, because the child is very happy where she currently is, but there is no way that she would be able to function in a mainstream class without significant support.
No local school in the state-run sector is able to meet this child’s needs but the parents think that they have now found a local independent school that can offer appropriate provision. Fortunately, with some sacrifice, they will be able to meet to cost of this.
My point is that how many other parents and children with disabilities or special needs are in exactly the same position, where schools have withdrawn support, local authorities no longer have the funding to provide this and parents are not financially able to take up the slack.
In a world where there is supposed to be no discrimination, it all seems to make rather a mockery of the Disability Act.