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September 2, 2003

Deaf and blind son 'will suffer if school shuts'

From: Glasgow Evening Times, UK - Sep 2, 2003

by Jonathan Paisley

THE parents of a deaf and blind child hit out today at plans to transfer their son to a new £6million school in Glasgow.

Nicholas McGarry, 13, may lose out on round-the-clock care if his specialist school closes.

He is a pupil at Carnbooth School in Carmunnock, which teaches deaf and blind children aged from three to 18.

Education bosses plan to merge the facility with Kelvin School, which teaches 43 blind children, and build a new campus near Bellahouston Park.

The new site would include a three-bedroom short-stay unit, therapy suites and recreational areas.

But Carnbooth pupils' parents are worried about the lack of residential beds. Children currently stay at the school during the week and go home at weekends and for holidays.

Nicholas, from Airdrie, is one of 14 children on the roll and his dad Stephen, 45, fears the move will affect his son's development.

He said: "The move would have a devastating affect on Nicholas if he loses his residential status.

"His nursery placement was at Carnbooth, he has been there for years, and the school cares for Nicholas round-the-clock.

"He can't tell the difference between morning and night, but the school gives him some structure to his day.

"If Nicholas loses his residential status, he would have to travel to school five days a week.

"If he is having a bad morning, it can take him up to an hour and a half to get ready."

He added: "The proposals seemed to be designed with Kelvin pupils in mind.

"The children from Carnbooth are in the minority and seem to have been forgotten."

Mum Norma, 48, said: "We don't deny there is a need for a new school but a lot of Carnbooth parents are concerned about the proposals."

Carnbooth was built in 1900 and is the only facility in Scotland for deaf and blind children.

Both sets of school boards will be asked to make written submissions by October.

Education bosses have promised that staff, parents and relevant voluntary groups will be consulted.

Building experts have warned Kelvin School, next to Yorkhill Hospital, is crumbling.

A report before the education committee states: "Kelvin School has been assessed as being in a critical and distressed condition.

"Despite remedial work it is essentially unfit for its purpose. While Carnbooth is in relatively sound condition, it is anticipated upgrading would be required.

"The new school will provide continuity and a strong foundation to cater for all the pupils."

Council chiefs hope the new school will be able to assess children from all over Scotland and help train staff from other local authorities.

A council spokesman said: "Staff, parent groups and both school boards will be fully consulted.

"The proposals state that as well as the three- bedroom unit there will be provision for other residential places.

"Interested parties have until October 3 to submit their responses."

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