Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2211

Cuts wreck lives

This article is over 11 years, 6 months old
Jackson is 12 years old; Tory cuts to school rebuilding programmes mean that his school will not get a new lift – so he can’t get to half of his lessons, writes Sadie Robinson
Issue 2211
Xanthe and Jackson (Pic: Smallman )
Xanthe and Jackson (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Jackson is 12 years old. He is in a wheelchair and goes to a special needs school.

Because the Tories have cut rebuilding work and a planned lift will no longer be built, Jackson can only attend half of his lessons. Xanthe, his mother, told Socialist Worker, “Turney School takes students who have moderate learning difficulties, autism, behavioural problems and mobility problems.

“As part of the Building Schools for the Future programme, the school was going to be partially rebuilt. There would be a sensory room, which would be a stimulating place for children with autism.

“There was going to be a lift so that children with mobility impairments could access the first floor. At present there are only stairs.

“Until recently Jackson could walk with assistance. But his neurological condition means he can’t do this anymore.

“At the moment Jackson goes to school for around two hours a day. I just take him to the lessons he can access.

“He’s denied about half the lessons which are on the first floor, including information technology and drama. The computers and arts facilities are up there.

“Jackson gets a lot out of drama but now he can’t go. For Jackson, school is the centre of his social world. It’s where he derives pleasure from being with his friends and where he can do things independently from family.

“He was recently off school while he recovered from some surgery and I arranged for video diaries from the school to be sent home so he could see what his friends were doing. They were the only things he looked forward to.

“It’s also completely disrupted my life. I spend more time travelling to and from school than Jackson actually spends there. I’ve got an hour to myself each day and I’m not able to earn any money. I used to work part-time from home, as a journalist, but I’ve had to stop work.

“When Jackson’s at school it gives me a break from caring. Now my caring role has intensified. I get some respite where social services provide some care for Jackson so I can have a rest.

“But I’m worried because the cuts mean that this could come under threat too.

“When I talk to parents at the school gate, all of us can think of at least one thing that can be cut instead of attacking schools.

“One parent who never usually talks about political things said the government should stop sending troops to Afghanistan.

“The majority of children in the school are from black and minority ethnic groups. A lot are in care. But the government would rather give money to the bankers and war than put money into education.”

Jackson and Xanthe’s story is a condemnation of the Tories and their empty talk of a “big society”.

We need a fightback to stop this callous government.

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