A recent assessment has rated Oldham Council “inadequate” for its provision of students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities with students having to wait much longer than other areas for assessments for Education, Health and Care Plans.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Garth Harkness, Shadow Cabinet Member for Employment and Skills and an Autism Spectrum Disorder lead teacher at a Manchester school said:
“We have had a long standing problem in Oldham in providing the best start for our young people. As someone who works in specialist Autism Spectrum Disorder provision myself and works closely with the Local Authority in Manchester on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities I know how important it is to provide the right support to our young people.
“In Oldham we are not doing that and it is unacceptable. This has clearly been a problem for some time yet nobody has acted on it
“We have spent a fortune on the Oldham Education Commission but this Council has let the most vulnerable young people down in ensuring a satisfactory provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.”
The Leader of the Opposition and of the Liberal Democrat Group on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE has been very concerned for some time at the steady decline in educational performance at many of Oldham’s schools since the change in Administration in 2011. Councillor Sykes said:
“We have spent a fortune on setting up the Oldham Education Commission yet we are bottom of the class for students getting the education place of their choice and we are providing an inadequate service at the Council for students with Special Educational Needs.
“As an opposition group we have been raising our concerns for quite some time.
“Young people with conditions like Autism, Dyslexia, learning difficulties or physical difficulties can often achieve great things if we provide the right support and bring down the barriers. Sadly, too often in Oldham this is not happening. Enough is enough – Oldham Council needs to have a hard look at itself and get these issues addressed.”
As always we are willing to work with the Labour Administration if they genuinely want to work with us in achieving this laudable objective.”
Question Cllr Garth Harkness gave notice of for Oldham council meeting on 8th November 2017 but was not called to ask:
I read with alarm in the press that the service provided by Oldham Council for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities is inadequate.
Bright Futures in Saddleworth, a specialist Autism provider, had to crowdfund for tribunals because the Council did not provide the support that was required.
We have had a long standing problem in Oldham in providing the best start for our young people.
And as someone who works in specialist Autism Spectrum Disorder provision myself, and works closely with the Local Authority in Manchester on provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, I know how important it is that we provide the right support to these young people.
Despite the Oldham Education Commission, this Council has let the most vulnerable of our young people down in failing to ensure there is satisfactory provision for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. What plan does this Administration have to address this issue?
I for one will be happy to offer my support in order that we may work together to ensure we get the best outcome for every one of our Borough’s young people.
Garth Harkness, Liberal Democrat Councillor Saddleworth North Ward, Shadow Cabinet Member for Employment and Skill