MP criticises 'vaacum' in special needs provision

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis has criticised the “massive vacuum” in integrated special-needs facilities in Manchester Jewish schools

Addressing a local dinner on Sunday for the Langdon charity, Mr Lewis said it was “a disgrace that there is no special-needs unit in one of our schools to give excellent education and allow children with special needs to spend time with their non-disabled peers when outside of the classroom. That cannot be beyond our community.”

Last year, the Delamere Forest Jewish special-needs school in Cheshire closed through lack of funds. In its absence, mainstream Jewish schools in the area had “not come together to give disabled children and special-needs children what they deserve in our community”.

At Manchester’s largest Jewish school, King David, governors’ chair Joshua Rowe responded: “It is not a King David issue, nor even a communal issue. This is a part of a far wider national debate as to how far children with special needs should be integrated into mainstream schooling. Many schools such as King David already have significant SEN facilities which work very well, but only up to a point. In our experience, and in the experience of many educators, [these children] are best catered for in specialist schools with specialist skill sets.

“However superficially and politically attractive, and no doubt well meant, it is not always in the children’s best interest to sweep everyone into a ‘catch-all’ framework.”

Delamere governors are considering how to spend a six-figure sum from the sale of the school’s grounds.

Last updated: 1:11pm, October 18 2012