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April 13, 2004


From: Western Morning News - Plymouth,England,UK - Apr 13, 2004

Angry parents and staff are protesting against plans to close a special centre for deaf youngsters in Torquay.

A proposal has been made to disband the hearing support centre at St Margaret's Primary School, in St Marychurch. It is part of a review of special educational needs by Torbay Council. The council stressed that no decisions have been taken and that plans will be put out for public consultation.

The unit has been operating since the school was built 40 years ago. It currently caters for eight youngsters with hearing problems. Deejay De'ath, ten, who is profoundly deaf, has attended the school for the past five years. His father Stephen, of Shirburn Road, said he was "shocked and upset" at the news. Staff at the centre said they were "sad and angry" at the news. In a letter to parents, head teacher Alan Lock said: "I am desperately sad and angry ... We have to fight for the future."

Tony Smith, the council's director of learning and cultural services, said the school had to "move with the times".

He added: "The fundamental principle is about inclusion. Far more youngsters can now go to their local schools because they are geared up to taking youngsters with all sorts of difficulties. We will ensure that those who are not taught in their local school are well supported."

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