How the most vulnerable people in our society are cared for is a measure of how civilised we are. Today, the issue on my mind is the education of children with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties in Powys. And there's an important philosophical principle involved. Is it better to include these children in mainstream schools, or allow them to be educated together in the same school? I use the word 'allowed' deliberately because the parents of 109 children have chosen to send their children to Ysgol Cedewain in Newtown, Montgomeryshire. This morning, I talked through some of these issues with Mr Peter Tudor, the Headteacher.
Personally, I reckon that 'parent choice' should be a decisive issue - which brings us back to the 109 parents that choose Ysgol Cedewain. Don't know what is the official policy of the Powys Council, but there's a feeling that its 'inclusion', which seems to be the opposite of 'parent choice'. And then we have the issue of funding. Officials of Eduction Authorities can give 'encouragement' to the favoured option by skewing the funding, making budget balance difficult to achieve, and damaging public confidence in long term security. I'm sure that these same debates are taking place in every Council area in the UK. All I'm sure of is that I need a lot more information before I can express any opinion on the budget provision for Ysgol Cedewain, and that it seems to be a first class school which is hugely popular with parents.