We should cater for the children not to statistics

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The question of whether a child should go to a special needs’ school or a mainstream can often be a thorny one.

It may not be a clear-cut issue as to what is best for the child.

And parents can also have very strong feelings about where their son or daughter would be best taught.

But that may be something of a moot point as far as hundreds of parents in Portsmouth are concerned – they have signed a petition calling for more special needs’ units in the city.

When the Children’s and Family Act 2014 comes into effect this September, it will give families more care and assistance for their children from birth up to the age of 25.

If existing special needs’ schools are already oversubscribed, then how will they cope when the new legislation comes into effect?

Raising a child with special needs can be challenging enough as it is.

Elsewhere, national charities have spoken critically of the timeframe for introducing the act with regard to those with special educational needs.

This all adds up to a lot of additional unnecessary stress for families.

Sending children with special needs into mainstream schools can be setting them up to fail.

While we are sure the city’s mainstream schools do their best to accommodate these youngsters, if they do not have the necessary support framework in place it can be disastrous.

Inclusion is well and good, when it is appropriate for that child.

It is unclear from the response of Dr Julia Katherine, the child support commissioning manager at the city council whether they intend to look into the matter.

It may well be true that Portsmouth provides nearly double the national average of special needs school places.

But if we have more than the national average of children requiring those places, then that may still not be enough.

What the authority should do now is look to provide the number of places that are required, not what national statistics are telling them.