East Lancashire special schools in 'scrapheap' anger

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Education reporter

SPECIAL schools claim they have been labelled ‘scrapheaps’ in a debate on autistic children’s schooling.

It comes after Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle took on the campaign of three families who say their children are not being educated.

In response, an open letter to the media from the Lancashire Association of Special School Headteachers defended schools across East Lancashire.

Mr Birtwistle had raised the cases of three young autistic constituents in parliament who he claimed had been ‘left on the scrapheap’ because they were not allowed their choice of school, not in reference to the quality of special schools.

Now Lancashire’s special schools have penned a defence to “criticisms and inflammatory comments” made during the debate.

Signatories include Astley Park in Chorley, Tor View in Haslingden, White Ash in Oswaldtwistle, Pendle View in Colne and Pendle Community School in Nelson. They pointed out all Lancashire’s special schools are Ofsted rated Good or Outstanding.

In parliament last week Mr Birtwistle said a 17-year-old Burnley girl he called Chloe has been on suicide watch “due to being repeatedly failed by Lancashire County Council since the age of 11.”

The MP then highlighted the case of Honey Crossley, 12, who had been “moved six months into her final year of primary school due to trauma and threat of exclusion”.

The debate began when nine-year-old Jack Entwistle’s family unsuccessfully battled education chiefs in court, objecting to their choice of school for him.

Special schools hit out at Mr Birtwistle in the open letter and described the vocabulary used in his campaign as “public vilification”.

However Mr Birtwistle says he stands by his comments and said they were directed at Lancashire County Council, not individual schools.

The letter states: “Comments made by parents and Mr Birtwistle have included grossly offensive statements describing special schools as “a scrapheap” where children with disabilities are left to “fester”.

“This grotesque character-isation has no basis in fact and is deeply offensive to the children who attend our schools, their parents and the staff who dedicate their lives to special education.”

Mr Birtwistle responded: “These children are on the scrapheap if they are not going to school. Jack hasn’t been to school in three months and Chloe is now unable to be schooled - her case is horrific. I haven’t mentioned the performance of any school - just that parents are being forced to use a specific school they do not want and the child does not want.”

Comments (4)

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7:15pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Interocitor says...

Birtwistle hasn't really helped matters here. His "scrapheap" comment is both belligerent and insulting.
Birtwistle hasn't really helped matters here. His "scrapheap" comment is both belligerent and insulting. Interocitor
  • Score: -47

9:25pm Thu 24 Jul 14

glossopkid says...

Interocitor wrote:
Birtwistle hasn't really helped matters here. His "scrapheap" comment is both belligerent and insulting.
Did he actually refer to special school? I don't think so!!

Special schools in Nelson are brilliant, they go the extra mile, make sure that the child/young person enjoys the activities they do as I have a friend who goes on about Pendle Community High school and what a wonderful job they do. I'm sure other schools do too, however I think the issue of choice is paramount.
My reading of last and this article suggestions that the MP is asking for choice for these children/ young people within education.

I'm sure most of these schools promote inclusive education and rightly so. Just because a child is labeled with a disability does not mean that special schools are best for them, let's give children and parents the choice to decide with professionals to make the right choice for that individual child without assuming " one size fits all".
Just my opinion!!!
[quote][p][bold]Interocitor[/bold] wrote: Birtwistle hasn't really helped matters here. His "scrapheap" comment is both belligerent and insulting.[/p][/quote]Did he actually refer to special school? I don't think so!! Special schools in Nelson are brilliant, they go the extra mile, make sure that the child/young person enjoys the activities they do as I have a friend who goes on about Pendle Community High school and what a wonderful job they do. I'm sure other schools do too, however I think the issue of choice is paramount. My reading of last and this article suggestions that the MP is asking for choice for these children/ young people within education. I'm sure most of these schools promote inclusive education and rightly so. Just because a child is labeled with a disability does not mean that special schools are best for them, let's give children and parents the choice to decide with professionals to make the right choice for that individual child without assuming " one size fits all". Just my opinion!!! glossopkid
  • Score: 130

11:07am Fri 25 Jul 14

cripplingstateofaffairs says...

Blackburn with Darwen council are no better, they rather give your child an ipra and leave your child in mainstream schools despite all reports saying that a special school would be better! I believe it doesn't matter which council you are with they don't want to invest in children with disabilities.

I appreciate Gordon Birtwistle bringing it to the attention of parliament however I am quite disgusted how few MPs turned up considering how many children there are in the UK with a spectrum disorder and other disabilities.
Blackburn with Darwen council are no better, they rather give your child an ipra and leave your child in mainstream schools despite all reports saying that a special school would be better! I believe it doesn't matter which council you are with they don't want to invest in children with disabilities. I appreciate Gordon Birtwistle bringing it to the attention of parliament however I am quite disgusted how few MPs turned up considering how many children there are in the UK with a spectrum disorder and other disabilities. cripplingstateofaffairs
  • Score: 45

11:41pm Mon 28 Jul 14

2014Mustangsally says...

LCC are to blame here. They are the ones who mentioned personal details of the famillies and named schools in the debate. They have sent out letters to all MP's most of which I expect have been binned quoting their own statistics not independent ones. 40 per cent of children on the autistic spectrum are ruled out of education due to illegal exclusions and 68 percent of parents/carers of children of autism spectrum conditions are unhappy with the educational provision offered to their child. Those are the facts from independent reports/surveys not ones led by LCC's heavy handedly run so called "parent carer forums". It is fantastic that parents and carers have come forward to say they are over the moon with their child's placement and school. However what works for one child does not work for another and every child has a human right to an education. Just one missing out and really LCC should be hanging their heads in shame but there are 100's across the county being failed. As much as LCC tries to brush it's "mess" under the carpet and cover up it's horrendous treatment of vunerable children and their famillies with it's rhetoric and tautology, the truth will out and then will Sally Reilly do the decent thing and resign?
LCC are to blame here. They are the ones who mentioned personal details of the famillies and named schools in the debate. They have sent out letters to all MP's most of which I expect have been binned quoting their own statistics not independent ones. 40 per cent of children on the autistic spectrum are ruled out of education due to illegal exclusions and 68 percent of parents/carers of children of autism spectrum conditions are unhappy with the educational provision offered to their child. Those are the facts from independent reports/surveys not ones led by LCC's heavy handedly run so called "parent carer forums". It is fantastic that parents and carers have come forward to say they are over the moon with their child's placement and school. However what works for one child does not work for another and every child has a human right to an education. Just one missing out and really LCC should be hanging their heads in shame but there are 100's across the county being failed. As much as LCC tries to brush it's "mess" under the carpet and cover up it's horrendous treatment of vunerable children and their famillies with it's rhetoric and tautology, the truth will out and then will Sally Reilly do the decent thing and resign? 2014Mustangsally
  • Score: 47

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