Council severs ties with deaf school nursery

Parents and pupils of the Donaldson's School nursery are angry at the council decision.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Parents and pupils of the Donaldson's School nursery are angry at the council decision. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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FURIOUS parents are in a race against time to save a “centre of excellence” nursery at Scotland’s national deaf school after it was axed from an official list of pre-schools able to offer funded places to families.

Parents of current and former pupils at Donaldson’s School nursery in Linlithgow said the decision by West Lothian Council bosses to drop it from a list of partner providers was “unfair, ill-thought-out and does not fit with current council and Scottish Government thinking”.

They said it presented a threat to the viability of the nursery, which has been highly commended by the Care Commission and education inspectors, and described as “sector leading”.

Staff at Donaldson’s are in the process of responding to West Lothian’s decision and must file submissions to reverse it by Friday.

Linlithgow mother Judy Vickers, 43, whose three-year-old son, Eric, attends the nursery, said parents would do all they could to help, adding: “There are people for whom Donaldson’s was a first choice because of the specialist care there.

“There is a wee boy with severe allergies whose parents were worried the primary school nursery with up to 60 kids there at one time would make it impossible to ensure he didn’t come into contact with substances he’s allergic to, however diligent the staff.
There have also children who have family members who are deaf or who have other communication issues, so it’s important for them as a family to have that understanding.”

In a joint statement, Margaret Burnell, interim principal at Donaldson’s, and Mary Mulligan, convener of the board of Donaldson’s Trust, said they were “naturally disappointed”.

They added: “Our concern is for the affected families and the level of choice and flexibility that is available to them, particularly in light of the new 
Children and Families Bill which states specific targets for the provision of care for vulnerable children.”

However, education bosses said the decision was in line with existing policy, which is not to enter into agreements if sufficient space exists in council nurseries.

A spokesman said: “Given this capacity and the availability of wraparound care, only one private nursery partner is necessary to ensure we have enough places for local children.”

TOUGH CHOICE FOR GABE

LINLITHGOW mum Kelly Wallace, whose three-year-old son, Gabe, attends Donaldson’s nursery, said she was dismayed at the decision to strip it of partnership status.

Her son has multiple allergies and, with the higher staff:child ratio

in local authority nurseries, she is worried about the increased risk of contact with food that could cause a bad reaction.

She said: “It would just

be tragic if this goes through – we have such a fantastic centre of excellence right here on our doorstep.

“If this goes ahead, we won’t have a funded

place.

“We would have to consider coming up with enough money for Gabe to continue privately.”