Ipswich: Education chiefs slam One’s teaching cuts to disabled students

One, formerly Suffolk One, in Ipswich One, formerly Suffolk One, in Ipswich

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
1:16 PM

Education chiefs have slammed an Ipswich sixth form’s “discriminatory” cuts to services for disabled students who will see their teaching time slashed by almost a half.

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One, formerly Suffolk One, informed parents of its controversial decision to reduce the number of taught days on its Foundation Learning programme from five days a week to three following a consultation, which ended this month.

Suffolk County Council has branded the cuts “discriminatory” against vulnerable students and said it would be seeking legal advice to encourage One to reconsider.

One’s principal Andy Whittaker said the decision, which will affect around 80 high needs students from September, had been taken for financial reasons and “strongly urged” the council to provide further support.

However the council claims its funding offer has increased year on year and highlighted the “significant public investment” in ensuring the sixth form building in Scrivener Drive and its staff were equipped to meet the needs of the most complex learners.

It claims cuts to classroom time will pose particular disadvantages for higher needs students whose concentration spans may be already shortened due to their disabilities.

With special schools in north and west Suffolk offering five-day-a-week teaching, the council claims One’s proposal would lead to an “inequitable” offer for pupils in the south of the county. Ipswich’s two special schools transferred their post-16 provision to Suffolk One when it opened in 2010, leaving parents with no local alternative.

A council spokesman said the authority was “extremely concerned” about the move, which “ignores the significant and universal lack of support for their proposal”.

“We firmly believe this decision will negatively and unfairly impact on vulnerable students in south Suffolk who will no longer have access to a five day learning programme,” the spokesman added.

Mr Whittaker conceded he would prefer to continue with the five-day programme but insisted it was impossible without more money.

“We would like to stress that we have explored all realist options – including reviews of all budget streams,” he added.

“We have requested additional funding but [Suffolk County Council] have confirmed that additional funding is not available.

“We appreciate their decision but strongly urge the county council to enter into dialogue with us on reaching a funding settlement which would enable One to provide two day alternative provision.

“We remain committed to delivering an inclusive, accessible and sustainable programme of study for all of our students and will continue to work with SCC to promote ways in which a five day programme of learning can be delivered.”

Mr Whittaker added he was “saddened” by the council’s response to the proposals and reiterated that One’s “prime considerations is the wellbeing of all students”.

The proposal had already met with an angry response from parents when it was first raised in March.

3 comments

  • Suffolk DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) is well aware of what's happening at One, (formerly Suffolk One). I had passed on what was happening to the main DPAC group who put up the original article on their web-site and as a result the Chief Executive Officer at the Alliance for Inclusive Education (allfie) is also aware of what's happening.(other details were passed on during our national conference). This is discrimination of disabled students and I believe is against several articles in The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

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    Martin Tolley

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

  • The truth is that costs are rising, funding in schools is falling and this is the effect. I don't think it's anything other than more money is needed to afford 5 days. Unless he makes cuts elsewhere which would probably be unpopular also the council needs to pay a higher amount. All these 'efficiency savings' are just cuts in all but name and the pupil premium is a joke. They took money out of schools left pocket and put it back in their right pocket with the instruction of using it to help disadvantaged children. That money that was pinched was for heating, electricity and staff wages, who is going to make up the shortfall?

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    IpswichResident

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • This is far from equitable - why discriminate against those who already coping with significant challenges? Realistically how much money as actually saved by this ? The impact on students and their families is huge.

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    John Lyle

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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