In the Media

D4d Letter to the Editor – A Special School

I refer to the letters written by Ms Jean Webster, a grandmother whose child attends Modbury Special School, and Ms Ginny Pyatt on behalf of the Governing Body of Modbury Special School (EducationNow 10/11/09). I wish to commend the staff at the school also – the skills, the care and the professionalism of the entire staff are unquestionable. My son enjoyed every moment spent there and bonded famously with all and sundry. I have acknowledged that personally to the school in the past and my opinion of that remains the same.
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a burgeoning problem in our society. There is enormous stress on the educational, therapeutic, family and social systems and on the general community at large. The ration of teacher to students in the public educational system is 1 to 8 with the assistance of an SSO, which is inadequate. In addition to this there are no therapies and no specialised services for the children with ASD in the public education system. The facilities, albeit pleasant in their appeal, are purpose-built to satisfy the lack of specialised staff and the low number of teachers, and in the main do not embrace the philosophy of “social inclusion”. The staff at special need schools deserve more support to educate and to care for all children with a disability.
My comments to journalist Clare Peddie, who wrote the article (“The Forgotten Children of SA”) remain totally accurate. I reiterate that the existing staff within the public system is of outstanding quality and, furthermore, the teachers are blameless in this process. The public education system is grossly underresourced. In comparison there are private schools, like St Patrick’s Special School, which has 26 staff and 42 children with special needs – the maths of teacher to student ration speaks for itself.
I concur with Ms Pyatt. My point has and always will be aimed directly at the Education Minister – all children with special needs deserve this level of education, care and social inclusion.
RICK NEAGLE, Dignity for Disability spokesperson