Merger in ‘best interests’ of schoolkids

(2305SL52)
(2305SL52)

Moves to merge two special schools in the city are in the “best” interests of kids with additional education needs.

This is one of the conclusions of a guidance document drafted by one of the schools at the centre of the plan - Foyle View Special School.

The report also reveals that the merger proposals - which involve Foyle View and nearby Belmont House - have been discussed for more than 20 years.

In fact, as far back as 2001, management at both schools met to talk about “greater collaboration” between them.

It has also emerged that, in 2012 and 2013, the chairs of the Boards of Governors at both schools wrote to local education chiefs supporting the merger proposal.

The discussion document says staff and parents at Foyle View have discussed the planned merger in depth at various meetings over the past ten years and are unanimously supportive of it.

The Foyle View document goes into some detail as to the benefits of merging both schools.

Among the plus points outlined is the assertion that a new inclusive school will “best meet” the needs of children statemented as having special educational needs.

The Foyle View document points out that, as a result of the merger, children and young people will no longer be categorised according to MLD (Moderate Learning Difficulties) and SLD (Severe Learning Difficulties) but, rather, viewed as children with additional needs.

It adds: “To take the view that a child having being ‘tested’ falls within a particular range of ability and future potential, MLD or SLD, is outdated, illogical and serves to confine children’s ability and potential and works against an optimistic perspective on child development.”

Merged schools, adds the report, will allow wider pupil access to a range of staff expertise and skills in meeting the needs of individual children and young people; in addition, it will end the need for parental anxiety about the transition between two types of school.

Acknowledging the many challenges inherent in the merger plan, Foyle View, however, insists that its governors, staff and parents believe the “substantial benefits outweigh the challenges.”

A new school, reveals the report, would have a new name, operate as a split campus for primary and secondary aged pupils and merge in September 2014.

The document can be viewed in full by going to the Foyle View website - www.foyleview.com - and clicking on the appropriate link.