cuts meeting -United Reformed Church in Market Place, Whitehaven, on Thursday, March 17 at 7pm
Bosses to explain how cuts will hit Cumbria's special needs kids
By Kelly Eve
Last updated at 12:59, Thursday, 24 February 2011
Education chiefs from Cumbria County Council are expected to explain how its school services for children with special needs will be hit by cuts at a public meeting next month.
They have accepted an invitation to appear at a meeting called by a leading support group which helps families in north and west Cumbria who have children with dyslexia.
Caroline Sutton, the assistant director of children’s services at the local authority with responsibility for schools and learning, is due to give a presentation.
She will be accompanied by councillor Duncan Fairbairn, the senior councillor who sits on the ruling cabinet overseeing schools and learning. The pair will also answer questions.
Leaders of the West Cumbria Dyslexia Association have been demanding answers since it was revealed the county council’s specialist teaching services could face cuts of up to 80 per cent.
Headteachers and schools’ special educational needs co-ordinators are invited to the event as well as members of other groups which support families with children who have other special needs.
Cumbria currently has 60 teachers, employed by the county council, whose job it is to go into schools to work with children with special needs. The council is set to axe 49 and use the remaining 11 to train teachers and staff in schools to work with such pupils.
They include children who are deaf, disabled or those on the autistic spectrum or who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Also included are pupils with emotional, behavioural and severe-learning difficulties, those who don’t speak English as a first language, and travellers.
Schemes they run include one-to-one reading intervention programmes, often delivered by specially trained teaching assistants.
Ann McKenzie, of the West Cumbria Dyslexia Association, said: “We were concerned about what was going to happen to the limited amount of specialist help available to our struggling dyslexic children.
“We found out some provision would be left, but the authority couldn’t say exactly how much. We still didn’t know what we could tell anxious parents who came to us for advice.”
The meeting will take place at the United Reformed Church in Market Place, Whitehaven, on Thursday, March 17 at 7pm.