The reason? One teacher was cut from the school last year, and this year the Principal has been told that another teacher and two special needs assistants (SNAs) have to go. Of course there is still no confirmation of these cuts, which means that staff and parents are left angry and uncertain and in the dark, even though the summer term ends on Friday.
It's a numbers game. But it's the WRONG numbers game.
The school my daughter attends is now designated for children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. They may also have physical disabilities, and often complex medical needs as well. Yet it appears that the same numbers game is being applied to all children with special needs, regardless of severity. It's based on a 1993 report which recommends the following:
6 pupils = 1 teacher + 2 SNAs
Yes, Smiley's school also has 6 floating SNAs, but is that really enough to deal with all the toiletting, feeding, changing, hoisting, peg feeding, seizures etc, and give these children an education as well?
You see that's the big problem. Of course the children's care needs are being considered, but what about their learning? A survey by one of the teachers in the school last year suggests that pupils now get less than ONE HOUR of actual education every day. The rest of the time is spent on their care needs. It wasn't always like this, before the cuts began to bite really hard.
Yet the numbers game is being played at Smiley's school because five pupils have improved so much that they are moving to schools for children with moderate or other disabilities. The reduction in numbers is a success story. But now the school is to be punished for its achievements.
I fought to get my daughter into this school to give her the chance to fulfil her potential, when I could find no other schools that catered for children with severe and profound learning difficulties. She got the best education available.
Will parents still be able to say that in ten years time?
If they do turn her school into a daycare centre?