07/06/2005

Conservatives call for special schools review

Shadow Education Secretary David Cameron has called on the government to launch a full review of the provision of special schools in England and Wales.

Speaking during a visit to the Alderman Knight School in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire – a special school, which the recently-elected Conservative council is fighting to save - Mr Cameron called for Labour to fulfil the promise made in its mini election manifesto to provide a national audit of special school provision. The Shadow Education Secretary said that nothing had been announced regarding the form the audit would take or what the objectives would take.

There are currently 1,148 special schools in the UK, although 91 have closed since 1997. Mr Cameron said that no more special schools should be shut down until the audit had been completed.

The Shadow Education Secretary said that the review should inquire fully into the role of LEAs in the closure of special schools, in order to discover why so many have been closed, and also what procedures are used to allocate places. Mr Cameron also called for a review of the balance of the law on special needs provision and said that research into what parents of special needs children thought of the current provision was also needed.

Mr Cameron said: “Special schools are a vital resource for parents of children with special needs. In their pre-election education manifesto, Labour promised an audit of provision to make sure it meets local needs. We welcome that. And given the continued closure of special schools, we challenge the government to act rapidly and deliver on their promise. These children are some of the most vulnerable in our country and they should be at the top of the government’s priorities.”

(KMcA/SP)

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