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TG hits out over education planning and Govt efforts to ‘silence’ NGOs

Together Gibraltar has stressed its “anger and frustration” what it described as the Gibraltar Government’s efforts to “silence NGOs and civil society groups”.

TG said the Government was attempting to “nullify” the observations of the Special Needs Action Group, due to its chairperson’s political affiliations.

“Members of NGOs have the right, as enshrined in our constitution, to be involved in political parties as well as to support non-partisan causes, and their criticisms should be evaluated on their substance alone,” TG said.

“This happens because Government know that on the substance, they are absolutely wrong.”

“They continue to avoid responsibility for their shortcomings, and to show an alarming lack of empathy for the families of children with SEN [Special Educational Needs], many of whom have tremendously difficult lives and desperately need more and better support from our institutions.”

TG said parents of St Martin’s School were not notified of when their children would start school until very late in August, and the parents of children in Early Birds Nursery even later.

“These parents need to arrange complex childcare and work-leave arrangements before the start of the school term, and have been desperately requesting information through several channels,” TG said.

“Not having these details might not seem like a huge deal for parents of neuro-typical children, but they can be great source of anxiety for the parent of a child with SEN, who knows the quality of life of their child can be profoundly impacted by even the smallest unexpected change.”

“Due to delays in the recruitment process, pupils with SEN have not been told who their teachers and SNLSAs were going to be until just before school started, or in some cases on the same day the school opened. This has caused great stress for both pupils and their families who have not been able to prepare their children adequately with the use of visual aids and specific SEN tools designed to make transitions easier for pupils.”

TG said key information such as bus allocations for the pupils of St Martin’s school have been left to the very last minute with parents being contacted the day before about whether their child has a place or not on the school bus.

“It appears that there has not been enough forward planning within the Department of Education, and this is adversely impacting the lives of people whose precarious quality of life requires precisely that; competent forward planning, security and certainty,” TG said.

“Our education system is failing to provide these very basic needs, and this is a criticism they should take on board with honesty and humility. The fact that it has happened in the past does not excuse this state of affairs, in fact, it points again to a serious lack of empathy for the SEN community.”

“To hide behind political tribalism is undemocratic and morally reprehensible. People are profoundly tired and frustrated by these undignified practices which muddy our political debate, stifle progress, and promote disenfranchisement and distrust in our institutions.”

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