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Letters—Special education cuts are symptom of system in crisis

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Issue 2662
Teachers and parents march against school funding cuts, November 2018
Teachers and parents march against school funding cuts, November 2018 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The closure of Crossley Manor School (Socialist Worker, 3 July) is a symptom of a systemic crisis in provision for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (Send).

Years of chronic government underfunding for local authorities have left schools unable to provide support and training.

The Sats tests and GCSE results league tables leave school curriculums barren and largely irrelevant for Send pupils.

We are witnessing a tragic increase in levels of exclusions and children who refuse to go to school.

My own son has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy—a life limiting severe condition with learning and behaviour problems.

He was voted head boy by his schoolmates. He struggled but got some GCSEs.

The school he went to in east London is now facing severe cuts to its autism provision, and trained support staff will lose jobs.

Parents like myself have to resort to massive fights for education health and care plans, and funding for vital teaching assistant support.

But more special schools or pupilr referral units are not the answer to this crisis.

Special schools represent a state of social apartheid where young people are taught away from their peers and often removed a long way from their local communities.

In the early 1970s legislation defined every child as able to be educated.

For the first time every young person was brought into the education system.

From then we began to bring all children into mainstream education.

There are still many brilliant examples of this working.

We have to focus our fight for mainstream inclusion, smaller class sizes, and a curriculum to meet the dreams, skills and aspirations for all our children.

Nick Caitlin

East London

A thirst for socialism

I was privileged to speak at a Social Change from Below conference at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa last month.

There were radical research students from many parts of Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as of course South Africa.

But there were also activists from townships and informal shack settlements.

Ronnie Kasrils, former ANC government minister and Communist Party leader, and today radical independent leftist, and Trevor Ngwane, highly respected revolutionary socialist, opened the proceedings.

It included a comradely but robust exchange over the role of armed struggle in defeating apartheid.

Professor Kate Alexander, conference organiser, closed it with an extraordinary and uncompromising one-hour speech. She spoke on the history of revolutionary workers’ movements

I had discussions with the young organiser of a branch of the newly founded Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party formed on an informal shack settlement.

I also spoke with the student campus organiser of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Not only did he insist he was also a Marxist, he quizzed me in detail on Brexit and what was the revolutionary socialist “line”!

He told me anti-imperialists everywhere will be cheering the break-up of Britain.

John Rose

East London

Cough up over young workers’ pensions

It’s great news that the Supreme Court has ruled against parts of the government’s public sector pension plan.

It ruled that changes to pensions in 2015 discriminated against younger workers.

The changes meant that older members could stay on the existing favourable scheme while younger members had to transfer to a worse scheme.

As a result, they overpaid a whopping £2.4 billion.

The Tories should stop dragging their feet and pay back overpayment to the four million public sector workers this affects.

Attacks on pensions represent an attack on the right to live with dignity later on in life.

And austerity is making life harder in so many different ways.

With some public sector workers relying on foodbanks to survive, it’s time the cash-grabbing Tories coughed up.

Amy Hayes


Don’t back down from climate protests

Our right to environmental protest took a hammering this week.

A judge at the High Court in Manchester found Katrina Lawrie, Christopher Wilson and Lee Walsh guilty of breaching an injunction at its Preston New Road (PNR) site.

A court in Blackpool had already decided they were not guilty of any criminal act when they locked themselves into tubing to slow progress at the site.

But Cuadrilla’s injunction still stood.

The company’s profits clearly rank higher than criminal law.

This should show us the kind of clampdown we can expect as we fight catastrophic climate change.

The cops said after the Extinction Rebellion blockades they want a focus on “lawful” rather than “peaceful” protest.

And police have been increasingly heavy handed with school climate strikers.

We won’t back off, though—we’re fighting for a future for ourselves and our kids.

So we have to think seriously about tactics.

Let’s back brave activists like the PNR 3 with the power we have as workers and in mass action.

Kim Hunter and John Atkinson


Don’t bet on Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is having a laugh with his prediction that a no-deal Brexit is a “million-to-one” prospect.

Or maybe he just hasn’t checked the bookies—some are offering odds of three to one.

It’s likely he’ll be our next prime minister.

But before he’s even set foot in Number 10 I’m already sick to the back teeth of him.

Johnson or Jeremy Hunt—either way we need to get them out.

Janet Dyer

East London

Bring back NHS burseries

I’ve recently been in hospital for major surgery.

For me it highlighted how much student nurses contribute to the work of busy wards and how short the NHS is of staff.

It’s a disgrace that student nurses should be forced into debt.

Bring back bursaries.

Sarah Cox

West London

Don’t trust the police

By my calculations the undercover police inquiry has disclosed 19 spycops in the Socialist Workers Party.

Fifteen of them were in the 1970s or 1980s.

That’s more than any other group—Vietnam Solidarity Campaign is second with six.

AR Spycatcher

On Twitter

How many Grenfells?

I’m disgusted, but not surprised, that research has revealed that 95 percent of high rise social housing blocks are still without sprinklers.

Over two years since the horror of Grenfell Tower, how many more working class people will have to die before the housing bosses take note?

The report by the Labour Party highlights the fear residents have to face every day in their homes.

Pressure needs to be piled on the Tories to retrofit all buildings with sprinklers so there are no more Grenfells.

Rachel Wood



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