Court upholds blind girl’s right to attend special school of choice


The Scotsman reports on how a couple successfully sued Argyll and Bute Council to secure their child a place at Edinburgh’s Royal Blind School.

For months, the local authority fought the McCullochs, insisting their visually impaired daughter was able to cope at a mainstream school. The parents strongly disagreed and were forced to take legal action. What ensued were two years of emotional and financial turmoil that almost destroyed the family.

The 15-year-old, who chose not to be named, has a cerebral visual impairment that restricts her peripheral vision and means she struggles to see colours and 3D. She suffers from a rare brain injury, which was not diagnosed until she was 11.  She started at Hermitage Academy in Helensburgh in 2005, but her parents became increasingly concerned she was not getting an educational package tailored to her needs. Worried for her safety after two serious accidents at the school in which she fell down a flight of stairs, they realised she needed specialist help.

In August, the family won the case, held in private at Dumbarton Sheriff Court. Their daughter now has a residential place at the Royal Blind School and enjoys specialist speech and language therapy, returning home at weekends. The case brings into sharp focus the issue of how best to educate children with special needs. While parents naturally want the best for their children, specialist facilities do not come cheap, and education authorities can find themselves facing a bill in excess of £100,000 for each child educated outwith mainstream schools.

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