Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 11°C

min temp: 6°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.

shares

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.”

shares

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

A small plane kept the Virgin balloon company for part of the trip

Geometrical farmers’ fields, tree canopies and a selfie were all caught on camera when photographer Sarah Lucy Brown flew over the county in a hot air balloon.

Jonathan Glenister, who has been reported missing

Police are searching for a 20-year-old man from Haverhill who has not been seen since Saturday evening.

HMS Rhododendron at anchor in Russia

Talk of VE Day evokes different memories for different people. For Arthur Simmons, it came as he sailed back from Russia.

IPSWICH TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB

Fans of the animated Disney film Frozen will have the opportunity to experience every song and snow flake with an Open Air Cinema Day at Ipswich Town Football Club this summer.

Debenham village parish sign.

The leader of a Suffolk village authority has questioned the electoral process after a representative could not stand for re-election due to citizenship issues.

Delays have been caused by a signal fault

Rail services between Norwich and Diss are having to run at a reduced speed on some lines due to a fault with the signalling system.

The future of RAF Lakenheath will be central to election battle in West Suffolk on May 7

Forest Heath District Council covers a large rural area, stretching from the Cambridgeshire border and Newmarket in the south to the town of Brandon on the Norfolk border.

Blackburn v Ipswich

Ipswich Town have sold almost 2,000 tickets so far for Saturday’s crucial away trip to Blackburn Rovers, and there are still some remaining.

Aerial shot of Ixworth.

Four vehicles collided at a roundabout on the A1088 in Ixworth.

Have you seen any of the livev TV debates ahead of the General Election?

It’s nearly time to cast your vote and with just a week to go before the country goes to the polls, we want to know your current views on several key issues.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages