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Petition move in school row

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By Euan Maxwell
Dumfries and West
Petition move in school row

FURIOUS parents of pupils at a specialist secondary school for young people with severe and complex additional support needs have started a petition.

It comes after the local authority told the parent council of Langlands School that a new head will take over in August.

However, the experience and background of the new headteacher has concerned parents, who say his appointment would be “unacceptable”.

Families have also criticised the council for paying little attention to the school and used an example of the hydrotherapy pool — which is their only physical exercise facility — which has not been working since the building opened in 2019.

In a statement, the parent council said: “We are deeply concerned that the proposed headteacher has no background in managing a specialist school such as Langlands, where many of the young people have profound and multiple learning disabilities (some with life-limiting conditions), and where medical and personal care is paramount. The role demands experience.

“If the plan goes ahead, the least experienced member of staff will ironically be the most senior. This appointment is therefore unacceptable.

“Langlands deserves dedicated and experienced staff from top to bottom – and that includes the head — to offer the best outcome for its pupils, to be a passionate advocate for the school, and to provide assurance to parents.

“This decision cements the parents long held view that the education dept pays limited attention to Langlands. For example, the hydrotherapy pool has not been operational since the building opened five years ago. Not one child, wheelchair bound or otherwise, has ever benefited from the therapy pool, having been built at great expense by the taxpayers.

“The parent council believes this is an infringement on the children’s human rights; to access physical exercise and therapy.

“We strongly opposes the decision by the local authority regarding the head — and despite many appeals for common sense to prevail, they seem determined to push this through dogmatically.”

The parent council’s petition has already had over 120 signatures and they are supported by MSP Oliver Mundell who believes the local authority “must stop ignoring parents and do the right thing for pupils”.

He said: “Langlands School should be cherished as a specialist resource, not downgraded as is being proposed.

“The nonsense trotted out about management arrangements do headteachers a disservice and speak to a worrying mindset in the education department.”

Mr Mundell added: “The issues around hydrotherapy pools should shame the council. It’s just not acceptable or defensible.”

When asked about the parents’ concerns and about the petition, a council spokesman yesterday said: “The needs of the learners and providing a positive educational experience across the entire North West Community Campus (NWCC) is our priority.

“The new arrangements will provide that. Langlands, as every other segment within NWCC, is a vital part of the school community. Officers have met with staff, parents, carers and other key stakeholders to explain rationale and timeframes of changes and we look forward to working with what is a vibrant and positive parent council in the future.”

 If you wish to sign the petition or view it at www.change.org/langlands_school

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