LETTERS: Budget cuts pose threat to special needs children

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The task of assessing the fall-out from the Scottish Government’s budget and the decision to cut local authorities’ revenues by £350 million in the forthcoming financial year is clearly a challenging one.

And we are already witnessing cuts to those dealing with people with Additional Support Needs (ASN), such as specialist teachers and pupils support assistants in schools, social workers and educational psychologists.

The most recent government figures indicate that 22.5 per cent of pupils in Scottish schools are recorded as having ASN, a condition which proves a barrier to learning, such as autism, learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, children with long-term health conditions, those who need medicines or healthcare procedures administered at school and those with care experience.

We are now facing a desperate situation where we have high numbers of children in schools identified as having ASN but with the potential for vital resources to be cut further.

If we are genuinely to deliver social justice and tackle inequality, closing the educational attainment gap, we must ensure that this group is adequately supported and resourcing to them is protected.

The costs of failing to adequately support children and young people with ASN far outweighs any savings made from budget cuts. These children are already at a disadvantage and are less likely to go onto positive destinations, such as further and higher education and employment and training.

It is absolutely crucial for local authorities, in the face of budget cuts, to unconditionally protect funding for services to children and young people with ASN, providing the vital support that this group so desperately need.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition:

Tom McGhee, Spark of Genius

Duncan Dunlop, Who Cares? Scotland

Sophie Pilgrim, Kindred Scotland

Stuart Jacob, Falkland House School

Christine Carlin, Mindroom

Niall Kelly, Young Foundations

Liz May, Action for Sick Children Scotland

Slavery is terrible but Britain did some good

Gerry Farrell’s column on slavery (News, February 24) correctly casts a welcome light on the hellish and disgusting institution which blighted the world for so long.

However, a few points which went unmentioned were that, in all the history of the world, slavery was seen as a normal situation; from the Greeks, whom we now praise as the originators of democracy; the Romans who sold Britons in their slave markets; to the West African chiefs who were quite happy to capture and sell their fellow Africans to the European slave traders.

However, a little praise is due perhaps, for the tireless efforts of the abolitionists of the British Isles, who were the first and, for many years, the only voices in the world protesting against the slave trade; and for the Royal Navy, which single-handedly stopped the carriage of slaves in the Atlantic and the Red Sea in the face of opposition from almost every other European, Arab and American nation.

From a modern perspective, our history regarding slavery is, of course, bad, but it is better than all the rest, and we stopped it when nobody else would.

James Duncan, Rattray Grove, Edinburgh

How to solve pothole problem? Avoid them

It had been noted that no repairs to potholes had been carried out around the roads in Balerno for some weeks. As in all parts of Edinburgh, the damaged road surface situation is of great concern to all road users.

I wrote to my local councillor who gave me the contact number for the local roads inspector with the intention of looking at the local pothole problem.

After speaking to him it was clear that this would be a waste of time as there was a backlog of 400 potholes due to council cutbacks and industrial relations problems with the council workforce as they are losing jobs.

The road inspector’s advice to me was avoid them! I am afraid that in heavy traffic and darkness this is not possible, let alone the problem for cyclists.

A Robertson, Balerno

Forget cycleways - this isn’t Amsterdam

Edinburgh council should cancel spending millions on new cycle lanes when they are considering sacking staff and blaming SNP cuts.

It would love Edinburgh to copy Amsterdam, where 50% of their people travel by bike, but the difference is Amsterdam is flat and they have very wide roads with lanes for trams, cyclists and even one for cars - yes, all citizens are considered.

I drive in Edinburgh and I assure you cyclists cope well for road space with cars. They believe they own the road.

Andrew Forrest, Bellevue Road, Edinburgh

BBC caves in to SNP’s ‘Scottish Six’ news

So the BBC is to cave in to the SNP’s demand for more Scottish, less pan-UK content – by trialing a “Scottish Six” news programme.

This is despite the BBC admitting support for a Scottish Six was “muted” among those taking part in the focus groups. But it seems the SNP gets whatever it demands.

The SNP seeks to detach us culturally and politically from the rest of the UK. Time and again Alex Salmond has claimed the BBC was responsible for his failure in the 2014 referendum. The SNP is determined this won’t happen twice.

Martin Redfern, Royal Circus, Edinburgh