FAMILIES and charities have branded county council plans to reduce education support for thousands of children and young adults with disabilities ‘completely unacceptable’.
A Hampshire County Council consultation is proposing changes to its Specialist Teacher Advisory Service, which provides support in schools for children who have hearing or visual impairments, physical disabilities or speech, language and communication needs. Emma Heaysman with her son Lewis, who she fears could suffer at school if Hampshire councillors approve 700,000 savings to its Specialist Teacher Advisory Service.
The changes could see fewer visits, reductions in trained staff, an increased workload for teachers and less continuity among the special teachers who still visit Hampshire schools. Mum Emma Heaysman from Portchester was angered after receiving a letter about the plans, which will affect her son Lewis, 10, who is deaf. She said: ‘I think it is awful because this support has really helped my son and many like him from a young age be able to get the most out of school. ‘His adviser has made sure his teachers, many of whom have not worked with a deaf child before, understand how they can help – ensuring they don’t turn round while speaking so he can lip read and he is sat at the front.’
Emma believes the council should be thinking about providing more services and ensuring there is continuity with advisers making visits. She said: ‘Deafness should not affect someone’s learning ability but many don’t pass five GCSEs at A to C, so they are under-represented already. If anything there needs to be more help and certainly not less. ‘Lewis has known his adviser since he was four and I think its a bad idea to have different ones as kids may then not be able to open up about the problems they are having.’ The National Deaf Children’s Society has branded the proposals ‘completely unacceptable’.