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(Bermuda) Parents slam lack of autism support in schools; 5 yr wait for "exceptionalities school"

May 5, 2023, Royal Gazette: Parents concerned by lack of special needs education

A lack of provision for students with special needs, disruptive construction work taking place during school time and government secrecy surrounding education reform are some of the concerns being raised by the PTAs of several schools.

The concerns were shared in a slide show at a meeting last week organised by PTAs and other education stakeholders with the aim of creating a working group to oppose some of the plans set out by the Government.

A special needs educator from Somerset Primary School gave a lengthy submission claiming “special education has never been a priority for this government”.

The educator said: “I’m really concerned about the exceptionalities school. The students that need the most support are not having their needs covered … they criticise parents when they are not doing what they should do to support their kids but what is this reform going to deliver to special-needs students in terms of the services and quality education that they are entitled to?

“If a child is on the [autism] spectrum, what can we expect will be provided for them?
According to the timetable, the exceptionalities school is not going to be ready for five years.

“Are the students going to have to wait? The system should be ready for the kids not the kids ready for the system. At the moment there is no curriculum for kids on the spectrum.”

The government has said previously that by September 2029, the exceptionalities and alternative education signature schools will be open….

The PTA at West Pembroke School questioned why the Government’s education reform engagement sessions that took place last month were shrouded in secrecy.

It said: “Why was the information presented at the education reform meeting confidential? (In case anyone says this was not the case, we were instructed not to take photos/recordings, and the timeline chart had ‘confidential’ watermarks on it).

“There were a lot of details presented and it is unfair to not give parents the opportunity to read over and digest it after the meeting. If this is a public plan, why the secrecy?”…

Meanwhile, the PTA at St David’s Primary School questioned the consultation process.

It said: “This is another example of government messing up public consultation. They asked for parents to participate in their focus groups and got very little support. At that point, with parents not going to them, they should have gone to parents. Every single school has PTA meetings would have been easy to ask. They didn’t.”…


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