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WEEKEND WEB: Spalding Guardian letters




EADERS' PHOTOS: Daffodils outside Spalding Parish Church, by Amanda Reynolds.
EADERS' PHOTOS: Daffodils outside Spalding Parish Church, by Amanda Reynolds.

Your views on education and religion... plus Thought For The Week

Your MP is misleading you over costs claim

John Elson's Spalding Guardian cartoon
John Elson's Spalding Guardian cartoon

I must respond to the letter from Jane Peck in last week’s Spalding Guardian which follows on from the article featuring John Hayes MP and his concerns about the new SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) vision for the county.

As I have stated in my previous reply to Guardian on this issue, there is no intention to reduce the SEND transport budget and all children and young people entitled will continue to get free transport. Mr Hayes is misleading residents by claiming this is about reducing transport costs.

The proposals are about giving SEND children who are currently entitled to free transport the same opportunities to attend a suitable school closer to their home like the majority of children do, rather than travelling long distances to attend a special school every day.

As we’ve pointed out before, no child will be forced to change school if parents don’t want them to. However, with only 30 per cent of pupils with SEND currently attending their nearest school, under the new proposals children will have the chance to attend a school in their local community if that is possible and it is what parents want.

Of course if more parents want to send their children to a suitable school nearer their home – and we’ve spoken to many who ideally would want this for their children – the natural result is reduced transport costs and savings further down the line.

The original published consultation document highlighted the potential saving on transport of £2-3million if children attended a nearer school but acknowledged that this wouldn’t be realised for several years. And, as we’ve stated before, this isn’t the main driver for this review.

In fact the emphasis is more about significant investment rather than savings. The majority of special head teachers, parents and carers in the county support the proposals which will bring significant improvements to our special school provision and extra investment of £40m.

Coun Patricia Bradwell

Executive councillor for children’s services, Lincolnshire County Council

Changes are essentially about money

Many thanks for publishing your article suggesting a split between our local MP John Hayes and the county council over plans to reform SEND schools in the county.

As one of many parents of a child in a school which will most definitely be negatively affected by the proposed changes, we have long been sure that these changes are, essentially, about money.

What possible other motive can there be for changing a school rated ‘outstanding’ by Oftsed (Gosberton House Academy) that specialises in teaching children with autism, to a general special school, which will have to cater for a very wide range of special needs and medical conditions, and therefore eventually change its excellent, very specific approach?

Of course, the only motive could ever be money, the huge budget for schools’ transport.

Well done to Mr Hayes for stating this clearly. Throughout the ‘consultation’ period on these changes, we have been told over and over again that the motivation is not to cut costs. But of course it is!

And by changing all special schools to ‘all needs’, including Gosberton House Academy, this will make it so much harder, if not impossible, for a child living closer to another special school to secure a place at the Academy, even though it’s very specific and individualised approach may be the only one that will benefit that child.

So a monetary cost will be made, but at what real cost to those children and their futures?

Amy Webster

Cowbit

Nearest school not always the best option

MP John Hayes is absolutely right about the effect of the SEND plans and the fact that transport cost reductions is the driving force.

For young people where a special environment is needed for learning (autism spectrum disorder pupils) the right school is needed and not just the nearest.

Lincolnshire Education must think again about changing the status of Gosberton House as the outstanding autism specialist centre that it is and making it all needs.

Autistic children rarely cope in mainstream and all needs settings but they can thrive in an atmosphere such as that at Gosberton House Academy.

Parents must have the choice to send their children there and transport must be funded for students with these specific needs .

The nearest school is NOT always the best option and “every child matters”.

Bob Duddridge

Retired teacher, Spalding

I would have tried to save Jesus

The Thought for the Weekbeing critical of Dawkins, Fry, Hitchens and more particularly the process of science itself, is so wrong on so many levels, I felt I had to provide some balance to your readers.

When you say “extreme” atheists, you really mean an atheist who is willing to write and speak publicly and about the absence of convincing evidence for any gods.

It’s not possible to be an “extreme” atheist, any more than someone can be an extreme bald person, or an extreme non-chess player.

But it is possible to be outspoken, I think that is what you really mean here. Are you really advocating a society where we could not be outspoken on matters of religion?

Now to deal with your other claims.

Yes it is actually a good thing to decry outlandish assertions which cannot be supported by evidence. Do you really disagree with this? The claim that “God is beyond definition” is a defeater for your own argument. If you cannot define this agentic creator, how can you support the claim that it acts or has acted in any real way in the universe?

Just blithely asserting these things based on your own feelings and an ancient text is not rational thinking.

Yet you claim to know things you cannot possibly know. Perhaps you hold these beliefs on “faith”.

By the way, can you supply a single belief which could not be held on “faith”?

You also directly contradict yourself.

“God did not need to create anything, especially us. His motive for creating us? Love!”

I should point out that science has done a lot more towards saving lives and reducing suffering than any religion has.

Celebrating human blood sacrifice is not an admirable activity. I, along with many others, find the notion of vicarious redemption a toxic and ugly idea. I certainly reject the claim that I have benefited in any way from the tortuous execution of a 1st century Jew. If I had been there, and in a position to safely do so, I would have tried to save and prevent the death of anyone being so treated. Wouldn’t you?

Peter Sanders

via email

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“Wars and rumours of war” and ‘threats of war’? There’s been the USA v North Korea verbal sparring culminating in “my button is bigger than your button!”, followed by Olympic co-operation between north and south and now dialogue with the USA!

Then we have the appaling poisoning of the Skripals and perhaps Russia to blame, and then a state-sponsored chemical attack probably, on Syria’s Douma. What a world to live in! What a world for our children!

There are many threatening, global issues. How should Christians respond? Jesus said those initial words: “When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come”. (Mk 13:7)

He’d been teaching about humanity’s end-times and his personal physical return ie “the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory”.

His disciples were to live in a state of readiness for that return, and so must we. In Jesus Christ crucified God has achieved victory over evil, but that victory is being worked out in our lives and fully accomplished upon his return. So, let’s not be alarmed about his returning for his people.

Revd Nic Hasnip

Long Sutton Baptist Church

Previously...

Last week’s letters



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