Outcry over school switch bid for special needs pupils

Our Lady of Lourdes School. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Our Lady of Lourdes School. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A CONTROVERSIAL blueprint to move pupils with behavioural problems to a mainstream Catholic school which taught singer Susan Boyle is under the spotlight amid claims the planning document was “misleading”.

Plans have emerged to relocate up to 24 pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs (SEBN) from Ogilvie School Campus in Livingston to an annexe of Our Lady of Lourdes RC
Primary School in Blackburn.

Angela Constance. Picture: Julie Bull

Angela Constance. Picture: Julie Bull

The proposals – part of a wider shake-up of additional support schools in the county – have sparked outcry among many parents who feel they have been sidelined from the consultation process. SNP minister Angela Constance has called for the process to be 

Council chiefs have apologised after admitting a planning bid paving the way for the pupil transfer – rubber-stamped in September – was inaccurate.

The error suggested the Connolly House building next to Our Lady was being converted for “children with autism” when in fact the proposals are for SEBN pupils.

An education source in West Lothian said teachers were “already shaking their heads” at plans to overhaul additional support schools and claimed the planning “error” was evidence information was being “concealed” from parents.

They said: “We know locally that some people didn’t attend the parents meetings or consultation about the Our Lady of Lourdes RC Primary School because they thought the
autism application in the planning was not particularly
controversial when in fact this new building will have nothing to do with autistic

Ms Constance, MSP for Almond Valley, said the botched planning application was the latest error in a “poorly thought through” policy that failed to properly engage with parents.

She said: “My objection is how this council is handling this from beginning to end. The council should have been upfront with parents from the start.

“All of these parents have enough on their plate without having a botched consultation process sprung on them. This is another aspect of things being poorly thought through.”

A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “We regret that there was an error on the planning application to change the use of Connolly House from class 4 – offices to class 10 – education.

“The planning application wrongly specified that the building was to become a centre for children for autism, rather for primary education provision.”