EDUCATIONAL PROVISION FOR HANDICAPPED CHILDREN
The Secretary of State for Education and Science, Mrs Margaret Thatcher, has drawn the attention of local education authorities to the need for assessing the adequacy of the educational provision for young children handicapped with defects of both sight and hearing. In a Circular issued this week (The Education of Young Children with Defects of Both Sight and Hearing, Circular 12/70) authorities are asked to review the provision currently available to see if it is meeting the needs of these children.
The circular stresses the need for early comprehensive assessment of these children, for the prompt provision of advice and support for the parents and it also draws attention to the educational needs of children handicapped in this way. Some 200 young children are known to have serious impairment of both sight and hearing and many of them have other mental or physical handicaps, some of them serious. Any decisions about their education are inevitably complex and particular care needs to be taken in assessing the individual requirements of each child.
The small number of these children compared with the school population, their scattered distribution, and the variety of different types of care they need, make arrangements for their education difficult. Unless sufficient numbers in any one locality could be assembled together, it would not be possible to set up a viable establishment catering specially for these children. In densely populated urban areas it may be possible to form a special nursery or infant class, perhaps with other handicapped children, and possibly in association with an existing special school. In areas where there are only one or two of these children consideration should be given to placing them in ordinary nursery schools or classes, special schools or units utilising suitable specialist help that is locally available.
Day provision may continue to be suitable for some older children, particularly where it can be provided in close association with an existing special school, but residential facilities will often be required for others who will continue to receive special educational treatment in boarding special schools. Some who are suffering in addition from mental handicap may require placement in junior training centres or in residential care for the subnormal.