Learners face funding battle to study at their college of choice
Our National Star learners have told a Government minister about their funding battle to be able to study at the college of their choice.
Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, met them during his visit to our college at Ullenwood, Cheltenham.
Christopher Myers, a third year learner, uses his computerised communicator by a switch he controls with his head. He told Mr Timpson that young people with disabilities should be able to choose where they wish to study. He said:
‘It should be a right to have the most suitable education provision. I do not believe I would have achieved as much as I have if I had not gone to a specialist college. It’s not fair to be restricted as to where we get an education just because we have a disability.’
Third year learner Chelsea McGonigle agreed: ‘I had a massive fight to get to National Star. What the local authorities fail to see is that we are not just coming here for the education. We want to come to National Star because it offers wider support, such as speech and language therapy and physiotherapy. It is also about the social integration.’
Mr Timpson told the learners he hoped the new Special Education Needs Bill would improve the lives of young people with disabilities.
‘The whole purpose of the Bill is to make sure that whatever your start in life you get the best prospects to allow you to have a fulfilling and productive life,’ he said.
Edel Rae, whose son Joe attends National Star College, appealed to Mr Timpson to ensure that changes in government funding wouldn’t damage the education choices for young people with disabilities.
‘These learners are testament to specialist colleges such as National Star. Not every local authority can provide a centre of excellence like this. If local authorities decide they will not fund anyone to study out of county, then places like this will not survive.’
‘Going away to college is part of the process of growing up – whether you are able-bodied or have disabilities. No one told Joe’s brother that he could not study where he wished. Why should Joe be imprisoned in his own county?’