Tuesday, July 14, 2009

'Parent's Choice' in Powys.

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.

1 comment:

JB said...


You do well to raise this issue. I am by no means an expert in the range or severity of the symptoms of the children of this particular school, but from my limited experience of these unfortunate souls, I have often seen terror in their eyes when confronted with the unfamiliar. This I am told can lead to upsets which are tragic to witness and can last several hours. It really does seem to me that a separate facility is both best for them AND mainstream pupils. I would question how much extra this school costs but, in any case, any civilised society must put closure of these facilities very high on their must have lists. The money simply has to be found - I am quite sure that most of us could suggest more acceptable cuts. Remember the loss of £4m, £200k pa, in the Iceland debacle was described as marginal by council officials, and whilst accepting that deep cuts are necessary it is time now for a root and branch examination of all council services and public opinion surrounding them.

This issue is not marginal it is absolutely at the very core.