The Orkney group of the Scottish Green Party who are fielding two candidates in May’s local elections have joined with local MSP John Finnie to call for more clarification over the closure of the Orkney Language Unit.
The closure of the language unit came as a complete shock to parents of children who use the unit or who were guaranteed future places in it. There had been no consultation. Councillors agreed to the closure but apparently did not know what they were voting for when they passed a raft of proposals put before them.
The small Language Unit provides a vital service to children with additional needs. In a warm and caring resourced facility with dedicated skilled staff the children are given the support they need to access the mainstream curriculum. One parent, Lisa Groundwater has set up a Face Book page and a petition has been launched to save the unit.
John Finnie, Scottish Green Party MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has written to express concern about Orkney Islands Council’s decision to close the Language Unit based at Papdale Primary School and has asked for clarification of how the decision was made and the nature of the alternative provision that is planned.
Steve Sankey, the Orkney Greens’ prospective election candidate for the Council Ward of East Mainland, South Ronaldsay and Burray said:
“One of the Orkney Greens’ top OIC election priorities is open government and public participation, and the Council’s actions in relation to this service are a prime example of behind-closed-doors decision making.”
“The specialised services provided by the Language Unit have been greatly valued for many years by parents of children with communication difficulties. This decision appears to have been taken by officers of the Council as part of the budget setting process, without reference to the relevant service committee, without proper public consultation and information, and without adequate consideration of the impact on parents and children and how best to involve them”.
And Helen Woodsford-Dean, Orkney Greens’ prospective candidate for the Ward of West Mainland added her concern over the provision of other services:
“Orkney Greens are concerned about what other service cuts may have been decided by Orkney Islands Council in the same way, and call on all current Council Members to ensure that the public is provided with full and clear information about all the service changes proposed as part of budget setting, as quickly as possible – and well in advance of the forthcoming election campaign period.”
Facebook page: Keep the Language Unit Open
Petition: Keep the Language Unit Open