Special needs nursery staff in turmoil

Langlee Primary School in Galashiels.
Langlee Primary School in Galashiels.

Scottish Borders Council moved this week to denounce rumours that the special needs nursery at Langlee Primary School was closing at the summer.

However, paradoxically, staff have been told by bosses that the closure is going to happen.

It is the only nursery in the Borders to provide specialist early years education for children aged 3-6 years with multiple and complex needs.

One person who had been told of the pending closure wrote to us anonymously this week, saying: “Children who would be attending the special nursery are now going to receive their early years education within mainstream nurseries throughout the Borders. These nurseries do not have the specialist staff, facilities, equipment or space to accommodate these vulnerable children.”

However, when we contacted SBC this week, a spokesman denied any closure was on the cards.

A spokesman said: “The council is currently in the process of assessing all applications for additional support needs for the school session 2016/17.

“No additional support needs provision is closing in session 2016/17.

“The council has to consider children with additional support needs and how best to support their learning.

“Some families wish for their children to be supported in their local nursery, while others may feel that the child would be best supported in the provision at Langlee.

“We will be engaging with families this term to finalise arrangements for next session, with these discussions deciding nursery placements.”

A member of staff at Langlee Primary School, who did not wish to be named, was surprised to hear this.

The employee said: “How can they say that? I find that quite unbelievable, given that they have already told the staff that the special needs nursery will close at the summer holidays, and the three staff that work there are going to be redeployed, although they don’t know where to.

“From what we have heard, agencies have been told not to refer any children to it, which makes it look like there is not any need.

“One or two of the girls that work in the special needs nursery just now, know of children who were expecting to be there, so obviously they are going to be looking for a place.

“And I don’t know how they are going to provide that provision within the normal nursery without specialist equipment and specialist skills.”

The Southern understands that the permanent teacher who was in charge of the special needs nursery was moved to another class last year, to be replaced by a teacher on a temporary contract.

Our source at the school added: “The staff in the special needs nursery are of the opinion that this information was known to the council last year, it was a decision that has been made long ago.

“To say that there is nothing closing is absolute nonsense.”

The nursery gives the children access to specialised facilities such as a multisensory room, a tactile environment with lights, music, different textures and sounds, allowing them to experience the five senses we take for granted.

Special nursery pupils also receive regular visits from healthcare professionals, such as speech, language and music therapists, physios, nurses and visual impairment specialists.