Michael Fabricant today (Friday 14th May) visited Queen’s Croft School in
Lichfield to talk to Years 10 and 11 students about life as an MP, but also
to find out what pupils and staff think about the recently announced merger
with Rocklands School. Both pupils and staff are unhappy about this change.
Michael Fabricant says: "Only 18 months ago or so, Staffordshire Education
picked up with enthusiasm the Government’s politically correct directive to
remove children with special needs from specialist schools and integrate
them into mainstream schools. Now, this latest change is being part
justified by a claim that there are falling rolls in special needs schools.
What a surprise.
"Yet in fact, despite the change of policy 18 or so months ago, there is a
waiting list for children wishing to enter Queen’s Croft School. And there
are no vacant seats in classrooms. Moreover, with extra homes being
constructed in the City, demand is likely to increase still further. I
visit Queen’s Croft School each year and the School works because it caters
for children with specific needs. To integrate children with severe
learning difficulties from Rocklands will neither help them nor the existing
students at Queen’s Croft. Integration is admirable in principle, but in
practice it creates all sorts of difficulties in the classroom where the
brightest children are held back while the least able feel out of place and
The proposal is that Rocklands School will cater for primary school children
with both moderate and severe learning difficulties while Queen’s Croft will
accommodate secondary age children of mixed ability.
Michael adds: "Vulnerable children with special needs, just like most
children, don’t welcome change. Queen’s Croft’s ethos of including primary
age children as well as secondary means that they do not have to change
schools at 10 or 11. The changes now being proposed by Staffordshire
Education Authority, at a cost of around £1 million to the council tax
payer, will destroy all that. At a time when the Government has finally
admitted that mixed ability classes don’t work, it is remarkable that our
County Council is now proposing this so-called solution.
"With the County’s reluctance to Statement children with special needs, the
problem is under-stated. We need these specialist schools and Queen’s Croft
is a first rate school. So why fix it if it ain’t bust?" Michael asks. "I
believe these changes are unnecessary, heartless, and will be a retrograde
step in the education of children with special needs. This blunder needs to
be reconsidered for the sake of the children".