My daughter has cerebral palsy and special educational needs. She has attended Ravenscliffe High School since 2006. Over the last 3 years, as a parent and member of the governing body, I have been actively involved in the Ravenscliffe@Spring Hall project mentioned in Mr Forrester’s letter (Halifax Courier 12 July 2013).
Ravenscliffe School has had capacity issues for years .The staff and governors have looked at a number of possible sites to develop a new Ravenscliffe. A new site needs access to public transport to develop independent travel training for students, it needs to be reasonably central to allow older students to access their work placements, and it needs to be part of a local community. The community aspect is very important, to allow Ravenscliffe to develop the community links that are already enjoyed with its current neighbours in Skircoat Green. The Spring Hall site is the only site that has been viewed which remotely fits. My personal dream was for a specialist provision to be established in Calderdale, catering for students with learning disabilities from age 16 to 25 years. There is evidence that young people with special needs can continue to develop past the normal school leaving age of 18, and providing meaningful training in independent living skills and supported work based learning in a specialist environment will give more of the students the opportunity for an enriched fulfilling life. In my opinion they deserve no less. Sadly in the current financial climate this is not possible, but a new sixth form centre at Spring Hall would certainly address the problems of overcrowding and enhance existing resources. The 1.5 million pounds awarded to the Ravenscliffe@Spring Hall project 2 years ago, was from a separate national budget, and if it isn’t used for secondary education this money will be lost. It isn’t detracting from any other local provision. If the project goes ahead, which still depends on the feasibility study and planning application, that money will only buy a basic building. Our challenge will be to find extra private funding, possibly several million pounds, to give the fantastic young people of Ravenscliffe High School the best facility that we can. It will all be too late for my daughter, who leaves school next year. She has two aims in life- to move in to supported living accommodation and to get paid work. Thanks to brilliant support from Lloyds Banking Group she has a wonderful work placement at the Data Centre in Copley which has boosted her self-esteem enormously.