Back in April, we wrote a short piece about the plan to establish an ASC resource base at a school in Salisbury. You can read it here.
It is doubtless true that many local authorities see resource bases as a cost effective method of securing 'inclusion' in the mainstream so we were very keen to see what evidence the Council had to support its decision and how it was involving parents and children with autism in its planning. We wanted to know what planning for 'inclusion' meant in practice.
After pursuing several requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act, we were very disappointed to note that:
(i) Wiltshire Council has undertaken no consultation with any group or person with autism about the planning for this particular base.
(ii) Wiltshire Council has no records of its decision-making. This means it has no records supporting the choice of school for this base and it has obtained no written advice from any professional with expertise in autism to assist with its planning to support children's inclusion.
(iii) Wiltshire Council can provide no detail about the nature of the proposed base e.g. it can provide no detail of the numbers of chilldren, the complexitiy of their disabilities, the planned training of staff in the mainstream, the therapies on offer etc.
We think children deserve better than this haphazard planning. Inclusion means more than simply being physically present at a school and it is unacceptable that those with expertise in autism, including parents and children, have not been consulted.
We have now written to elected members to raise these issues You can read our letter here.
We do not, however, think these practices are unique to Wiltshire Council, so please let us know if you are aware of similar issues in other areas.