Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 11°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Vital school service could face axe

09:00 23 December 2010

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has urged bosses at Suffolk County Council not to axe hospital school rooms.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, has urged bosses at Suffolk County Council not to axe hospital school rooms.

Archant

EDUCATION chiefs were last night urged to safeguard a vital teaching service for thousands of youngsters suffering from chronic illnesses.

Suffolk County Council is currently looking at the possibility of axing hospital school rooms at Ipswich and West Suffolk.

The service is funded through the education budget and is one of those areas currently being reviewed as the authority looks to tighten the purse strings in the face of Government cuts.

The move was last night strongly criticised by Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, who said they should be doing all they could to protect the school rooms.

But Graham Newman, county councillor with responsibility for young people, said they were “completely committed” to running a service of that type - although it might have to be adapted for the 21st century.

Hospital school rooms provide teaching for youngsters who have long-term illnesses - such as leukaemia or chronic asthma - and are out of main stream education for months or even years.

Dr Poulter said the service at Ipswich Hospital teaches an average of 2,200 young people every year.

“It is essential that all local education authorities invest properly in these school rooms and ensure they have permanent staff who can offer children a continuity of care,” he said. “Obviously there have to be some cuts. Getting rid of bureaucracy and red tape - I think that’s something we can all agree with - but to cut a vital service used by the most vulnerable and most sick? Those are the sorts of ones that we need to be keeping.

“The Government has ring fenced the schools’ budget, so there’s no reason whatsoever for that to be cut by the county council.”

Dr Poulter said there was very little outlay for the school room at Ipswich as the hospital let the county council use the room for free while most materials were funded through donations.

“At the moment there are two members of staff - a teacher and a teaching assistant,” he said. “There are minimal over heads. One middle ranking manager at the county council would cost more.”

Mr Newman said the council had no intention of not providing a service for young people who were unable to get to school.

He said they were looking at remodelling the current set up and were in consultation with a number of parties.

“We have a statutory obligation to educate children who cannot get to school,” he said. “This is not a service we will walk away from. We are completely committed to continue to run a service of that type.

“However, we have to bear in mind that although there hasn’t been a cut in the dedicated school grant, the money is worked out according to the number of pupils. The number of pupils in Suffolk is falling, therefore the amount of money coming into the county is falling. We also have to take into account inflationary costs.

“This makes it essential that any service we operate is effective and efficient. The hospital schools service was set up many years ago and it really hasn’t changed very much at all.

“Children, like adults, are spending much less time in hospital than they did a decade ago and more time recuperating at home.

“Because of the concern that has been expressed I have asked for a record of the number of hours taught in hospital schools over the last five years. I think that will show there has been a decline.”

1 comment

  • In this case, the Tory MP speaks a lot of sense whilst, typically, the Tory councillor spouts ill-considered nonsense.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christchurch Land and Estates' proposed development of 560 homes, community centre, extra care/assisted living facility, play areas, village green, shops and employment centre off Gulpher Road, Felixstowe.

Building a massive new estate in open countryside on the edge of Felixstowe would bring more benefits than the harm it would cause, according to the developers.

Stock East Anglian train picture.

A person has died after being hit by a train this morning between Ipswich and Cambridge.

Woodbridge appears affluent but even in towns like this there is hidden deprivation.

This week’s report on Hidden Needs in Suffolk has been seen as something of an eye-opener because it shows deprivation is not confined to the council estates of our largest towns, writes Paul Geater.

Corrie McKeague on CCTV outside The Grapes pub in Bury St Edmunds

The search for RAF serviceman Corrie McKeague enters its fourth day this morning after the 23-year-old was reported missing on Monday.

Mill Acre boat lake in Sudbury is in desperate need of repair

A 44-year-old landmark at a Sudbury beauty spot built in memory of a local family who perished in an air disaster in 1971 is in desperate need of repair.

Carl Giles.

Today marks the centenary of the birth of Ronald “Carl” Giles, a treasured Suffolk icon who became Britain’s best-loved cartoonist.

Police are investigating

Detectives are appealing for information following a burglary at a home in Blackberry Way in Oulton Broad.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24