Statement from Orkney Islands Council on closing the Language Unit with no consultation of parents to take place at any time in the process .
“Currently, pupils accessing the Language Unit are transported into Kirkwall for their sessions. From August, the Language Unit will operate as an outreach facility meaning that pupils will receive their sessions in their own school, from dedicated language staff alongside support from in-school staff.
Savings will be achieved through this change in both staffing and transport costs.
The decision to change the Language Unit to an outreach service was one of the savings proposals that was put forward in public at a meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee on February 9 and then ratified at a meeting of the Full Council on February 22. The agenda and minutes are available on the Council website www.orkney.gov.uk <http://www.orkney.gov.uk>
Following a reduction of £1.1 million in the funding the Council will receive from the Scottish Government to run services in 2017-18, Elected Members and officers have worked together, making difficult decisions, to find £842,000 of savings for the year ahead.
It would have been inappropriate for us to inform parents of this change before the staff and we had just begun the process of early consultation with our staff members on this. We had planned for individual discussions with parents at an appropriate point. Unfortunately the media were notified of our discussions with staff. Clearly this was not the way we wanted things to unfold. All the parents concerned will receive a letter in the coming days, inviting them to a meeting so that we can inform them fully of the changes that are due to be implemented”
1) Even if money is the primary concern here – how will it be cheaper to have teachers going to a number of different locations, than to have them stationed in one place? Centralisation is usually understood to save money.
2) When the children gathered in one location, together, they will have drawn support from being together – it would help them to feel that there were others with similar difficulties and that they weren’t ‘different’. The parents would also have a chance to meet and find support with others parents in a similar situation. To have a ‘special’ teacher come to a school to see a child or a small number of children, marks the children out as ‘different’. I know it shouldn’t, but, children are children, and will always home in on the ‘different’ ones.
3) Seriously, the parents should have been involved in the consultation process – when it’s something that affects them so strongly – they really should have been involved.
4) And, finally , if the new plan is all so marvellous – how come at least one of the parents affected has felt the need to go to social media to try to get support to stop these changes being made?
That’s my tuppenceworth.