Give our girl her school place back

Louise  and Steven Gough with their daughter Samantha at Lasswade High School.
Louise and Steven Gough with their daughter Samantha at Lasswade High School.

The parents of a teenager with additional needs have been left shocked by the council’s withdrawal of her school support for next term.

Fourteen-year-old Samantha Gough, who is visually impaired and autistic, has lost her Secondary Enhanced Provision place at Lasswade High School.

She will now have to be unsupported in the mainstream school when she returns from the summer holiday after the placement allocation group ruled that “Samantha’s needs do not meet the threshold for allocation of a shared place”.

Her family are now asking why they or the school were not consulted. They point out that the National Secure Forensic Inpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service expressed concerns about changes to Samantha’s support.

Midlothian Council says the review was made to “ensure that there was equity in the way resources are allocated”, and that it involved input from schools and parents.

The family has vowed to fight the removal of the place Samantha had for two years, stating the council’s education department “are not getting away with this”.

Mum Louise is particularly disappointed the support has been removed just as her daughter prepares to start third year in August.

She said: “She has made lots of progress, it’s been fantastic.

“Then without a word of warning I got this letter in March. I’m not going to send her back to school in August, she is used to a one-to-one who takes her from class to class and follows her throughout the school.

“For all the school have tried to bend over backwards to accommodate Samantha, they are very limited in resources.”

Louise blames the placement allocation group for a recent council change of criteria, which she said involved no consultation with parents.

She also said that nobody from the school represented her daughter when her case was discussed due to long-term absence, and while there was a space on the appraisal for parents’ comments, she was not asked.

She added: “They are not going to make a guinea pig of my child. I have met with the leader of the council, I’m taking this everywhere.

“They don’t have my child’s best interests as it’s all budgets.”

A council spokesman refuted Louise’s claim, saying: “This review involved parent and school representatives. Lasswade High School has been allocated resources to meet the needs of pupils with additional support needs within their school.

“Our school group manager with responsibility for additional support needs has met with Ms Gough and the council leader and explained the position to them.”