IM this article to a friend!

August 8, 2005

Fears for blind-deaf boy as 24-hour care school to shut

From: Glasgow Evening Times - Glasgow,Scotland,UK - Aug 8, 2005

THE parents of a deaf and blind boy today voiced fears for their son, who will lose his residential place when a special school closes.

Nicholas McGarry, 15, is set to lose the round-the clock care he has received for the past eight years when Carnbooth School in Carmunnock shuts.

The residential centre for children, which cares for pupils who are both deaf and blind, will close next year, when it merges with Kelvin School in Glasgow at a new £6million campus near Bellahouston Park.

Six of the 13 children who attend the school receive residential care.

However, Nicholas' parents, who live in Airdrie, are angry the new facility will have no places for long-term residential pupils.

They say they were promised Scotland's only residential school for deaf-blind children would not be lost when the two schools merged.

Now they have been told they must find alternative care arrangements for Nicholas, who has been cared fory by specialists at Carnbooth since he was seven.

Dad Stephen, 47, said: "There are only 13 pupils at Carnbooth, but the care and education they receive there is excellent.

"We were worried when details of this merger came out two years ago, but we were assured the residential facility would not be lost.

"Now we are told the school will have facilities only for short-term placements.

"We feel cheated, it is exactly what we feared would happen."

Mr McGarry and wife Norma, 49, say their son's progress will be hampered by the loss of round-the-clock care.

Mrs McGarry said: "At Carnbooth, the pupils are educated constantly while receiving care and, because of this, Nicholas learned to do stuff for himself, like get dressed on his own.

"When he is out of school for any length of time, he stops doing these things because he does not have the specialist support he needs.

"All the progress he has made at Carnbooth will be lost.

"We worry not just for him, but for all the other pupils who will lose out on the care and attention they need." Mr McGarry added: "We feel our son is being let down.

"These kids can't speak for themselves, so we feel it is our responsibility to do it for them."

The Kelvin School, sited near Yorkhill Hospital, cares for around 40 pupils with visual impairments, as well as general disabilities and learning difficulties.

When its pupils and the Carnbooth youngsters move to the new campus in Dumbreck pupils will benefit from a design that will allow them to feel their way around their surroundings using tactile materials and sensory clues.

It will also be set within parkland and surrounded by beech and lime trees to give youngsters a sense of tranquillity.

When it opens, it will be the most advanced school for the blind in Europe.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council, which is responsible for the planning and development of the new school, said: "Our education services department has been involved in lengthy discussions with Mr and Mrs McGarry as to how the new campus will benefit their son.

"Although this new school is not residential, there will be access to a house on site and this will link to an enhanced working with families for developing social and independence skills.

"One of the main aims of the school is to strengthen partnerships between home life and school and to offer children and young people the opportunity to develop individual living skills within a realistic home environment.

This could include short spells of residential stay."

Copyright © 2005 Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited. All Rights Reserved