Parents hear of special needs plans at meeting

A public meeting in Sleaford last week outlined county council plans to reshape education for children with special needs.

Tuesday’s New Life Conference Centre event was one of three public meetings in the county for residents to hear the plans and exchange views as part of a consultation process which ends on March 14.

Director of Children’s Services, Debbie Barnes explained the Department of Education has asked local authorities to review special needs provision, making sure it is ‘fit for purpose’ for a changing population.

She said they have spent 18 months working with headteachers and the Lincolnshire Parent Carer Forum on the recommendations to minimise travel, enhance provision, and increase the number of school places in local communities.

Assistant Director of Childrens Services, Heather Sandy said they want to work with special and mainstream schools in order to deliver this.

She commented after the meeting: “Mostly, there has been widespread support for the proposals across the county, although there has been some opposition from a number of parents, particularly those associated with Gosberton House School. We have acknowledged their views and all feedback will be considered.”

Jane Peck of Sleaford has an autistic son who benefits from specialist care at Gosberton House School, and fears its excellent service could be diluted if expected to accommodate all special needs.

She said some parents are concerned the changes will mean they lose transport funding if they do not choose to move their child up to a secondary school nearer to home.

She said: “Some autistic children do not fit in mainstream schools as it can be too noisy. We know more provision is needed, but there needs to be more thinking about where that will be delivered.”