23rd February 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Refresh must stop now (Jane Haswell)

“If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs is education to turn him around.” (Jim Rohn).

Every Shetlander’s future depends on education. Shetlanders have shouted loud and clear that education must be the priority. The wrong road has been embarked upon with the “same percentage cuts” across all departments regardless of their function. That was a political decision and political decisions can and must be revisited when evidence of this magnitude is presented.

I know there are councillors who have recognised this for some time and are working to put in place cuts that will preserve a core belief that defines us as Shetlanders – “our bairns are our future, our priority”. That’s leadership with a vision and integrity.

It has taken education to show us we are on the wrong “same percentage cuts” road. Prioritising is the message from the electorate, the electorate councillors are there to serve.

This refresh must stop now for the education, health and wellbeing of the children and ultimately for Shetland’s future.

So to our councillors I say, I believe you are listening and today you can show you are hearing the will of the people.

Jane Haswell
Avondale,
Walls.

2 comments

  1. Margaret Gear

    Well said Jane!

    Reply
  2. Jane Haswell

    The blueprint proposal to close Aith Junior High will see an influx of 102 children into the current overcrowded AHS . This will include children with additional support needs. The Doran report & the Scottish Governments reply put statutory duties on local authority’s to have a presumption for ‘mainstreaming in a child’s local area’. Taking children currently attending their local Junior High and placing them on a bus for over 130 mins a day will not enhance ANY child’s life , these are proposals which go against every requirement of GIRFEC & the Educational (Additional Support for Learning) Scotland Act. These will be open to judicial challenge.

    This will be the same for each of the Junior High closure proposals. The same for each child with Additional Support Needs currently being supported in their own locality. The Doran report looks at the need to reverse the historic Special School model to build upon the successes of mainstreaming in a child’s home area.

    What has not been voiced in the discussions around the New Anderson High is the plans for an integrated Additional Support unit or the wider debate about rural children with additional support needs who currently attend their local school being placed on buses or hostel accommodation. If 130 mins travel a day , is the maximum time before hostel accommodation is offered will the new hostel provide adapted accommodation for those who will now be in that criteria?

    This debate must take place now, there must be an integral unit from the start. As was promised in the discussions prior to the Scottish Futures allocation. Additional support provision must be in the same new building, the same New Anderson High. It must not be sacrificed due to running out of room or money to build a larger than expected hostel. It must not remain a separate building on a separate campus.

    I am confident that councillors will consider carefully the widest implications of the Blueprint proposals in what are now completely different circumstances than when they voted 12 -10 on the 20th September. I have had the support of the Convenor who states that although discussions are at the early stage and may be delicate there is a commitment to full inclusion. I am sure when the political leader has the curtsey to reply to me, he will echo this sentiment.

    However ‘ a commitment ‘ is not a plan & parents of children with additional support needs are asking for firm plans to demonstrate priority being given to a fully integrated and imbedded Additional Support provision on the new campus as well as a comitment to education all children in their local area.

    Parents are reminding Councillors’ of their statutory duty to follow the Doran report & the Scottish Governments commitment to placing the needs & rights of every child in Shetland at the centre of their policies. This can never be achieved by transporting children over 13 hrs a week for over 40 weeks a year. Many children will simply not be able to cope.

    There are creative people coming forward with realistic options. There needs to be an integrated Education Strategy for Shetland from Nursery to FE/HE with creativity and compassion at its heart. Yes it needs to be financially viable & it can be. But again that takes leadership & vision as well as commitment to listen to the views of those the council serve.

    The Doran report provides not only vision but legal safeguards for parents in the areas of proposed closure and those in Lerwick concerned about separate provision.

    Reply

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