Parents whose children use the Language Unit in Orkney were stunned to hear of its closure when told of it by staff at the unit. The restructuring of the service which appears to have come with no consultation with those who use the service has also come as a complete surprise to most councillors.
The Language Unit has always been an easy target for cut backs with many councillors not understanding the crucial role it plays in a child’s education. By nature a small unit with highly skilled and dedicated staff, the service it can offer to children with language difficulties is vital in their ability to access mainstream education.
Language is fundamental to children, not only in learning to read and write but in the development of social skills. Difficulties in communicating not only prevents a child from accessing the curriculum but it also causes them great upset and frustration.
A Facebook page was set up yesterday by a parent, Wednesday, to fight the closure of this vital unit.
Lisa Groundwater, a parent has said on the Facebook page:
“I have started this Facebook page to support the Orkney Language Unit, following the announcement today that Orkney Islands Council will close it’s doors in June. Our son only started at the Language Unit last week, but he loves everything about it. The number of children that require additional support with their language skills is increasing, not decreasing, so surely we need to see the Language Unit expand, not close!”
“The apparent ‘restructure’ of this service is complete nonsense. There was no consultation process before this decision was made whatsoever……….”
“Please share this page and comment with as much support as possible. We need to generate a lot of interest and make a lot of noise to ensure this service remains in place for the children of Orkney!”
It is appalling that parents whose children use the service and those who were allocated future places in it have not been consulted about the closure. It is also shocking that local councillors have been taken by surprise by the ‘restructuring’ either due to a lack of scrutiny of official papers or a lack of knowledge about its importance.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame
UPDATE: Local Green MSP John Finnie has sent this letter to OIC asking for clarification