Petition of 6,218 names handed to council in bid to save resource base
PARENTS marched and a petition has topped 6,000 signatures in the campaign to save a school's centre for disabled children.
The resource base at Emersons Green Primary School enables children with physical disabilities or visual impairment to learn alongside mainstream pupils.
But a review of special educational needs and disabilities provision by South Gloucestershire Council's schools forum recommended that the resource base closes after the children who currently use it have moved on.
The petition calling for the resource base to be saved, which was signed by 6,218 people, was handed in to a council meeting on October 16.
Nigel Varley, of the National Education Union, told councillors: “We recognise there is a need to reorganise and improve SEND provision in South Gloucestershire, however we do not accept that improving SEND provision necessitates the closure of an excellent facility.
“The only motive for doing this must be financial and it will be to the detriment of the service.
“LEA officers have emphasised their belief that inclusion means as far as possible including children with special needs in mainstream schools.
“To dump children with complex needs into mainstream without the resources to address those needs is sheer cruelty amounting to abuse.
“It also has a serious consequence for the other children in mainstream schools and the teaching and support staff already driven to breaking point by intolerable workload and punitive performance management."
The council has held meetings and online consultations with parents over its proposed changes.
Almost 50 parents, pupils, staff and supporters marched through driving rain from Emersons Green Primary School to one of the meetings, held at Blackhorse Primary School on September 30.
The council is due to announce on November 4 whether the schools forum's proposals have been revised and whether they will be taken forward to public consultation.
A council spokesperson said: “It was certainly helpful for officers to hear personal stories that underline the complexity of providing the right level of support locally for young people who need extra help.
"They underlined some of the challenges that we know we face in making true inclusion for all young people a reality in all our schools, not just those who already embrace it.
"We have committed to continue these discussions with parents and schools as we take on board what they have said in developing new options with a view to a full public consultation.”