Save Furness School – a parent’s perspective

Parents in Kent are petitioning the proposed closure of Furness school in Hextable .  Furness is a specialist school for children with ASD and also emotional and behavioural issues. “KCC are in consultations with the intention of closing the school due to the number of pupils that attend. However the number of pupils at the school is a very important factor as to why it needs to stay open, this is because our children cannot cope in a bigger school. Kcc are proposing sending our children to a mainstream school with provisions. This is unacceptable and needs to be stopped now.”

Below is a link to information on the public consulation.

http://consultations.kent.gov.uk/consult.ti/FurnessSchool/consultationHome

This ePetition runs from 06/02/2015 to 25/03/2015.

Screenshot 2015-03-25 07.55.25

One of the parents who has a child in the school contacted me to talk about her experiences and fears.  This is her story:

Have you ever had the rug pulled from under your feet and hung in suspense wondering if someone will catch you or if you will land in a heap on the floor?  For myself and the rest of the parents of 31 children who attend Furness school in hextable this is how we have felt for the past few weeks.  Let me take you back 2 years to a very hard point in our journey. tweet

This time  2 years ago was so different to now.  I don’t have that nostalgic glint to my eye,  I have sadness, fear and anger. We were at crisis point. My child highly distressed and taking it out on anyone. The police became frequent visitors as I called them so much to help deal with a rampaging 11 year old who was so lost in himself we had to act in his best interests.  This led to a permanent exclusion from school,  this was after 2 police removals, one he was arrested,  other was to place of safety in hospital. tweet

Just over 18 months ago we got the document we needed, ehcp which meant we could find a school to meet his needs.  One local authority school in the county felt able to meet his needs, we took the plunge and if I fast forward you to now the school has worked wonders, I have my child back! tweet

However, just before half term, out of the blue, it was a Tuesday afternoon and I initially missed the call but rang back to have my jaw hit the floor, the rug pulled from under me and the lid on the box of memories from 2 years ago teased open slightly to fill me with fear.  “Hello Miss, I’m calling on behalf of the LA, unfortunately we have some bad news, with regret we are going to have a consultation on the possible closure of Furness School.”  That felt like a physical punch to the belly, I  told to news breaker that I would fight like I have never fought before against this and fighting I am. tweet

The reasons for this consultation are due to low pupil numbers and a substantial deficit of £1.6 million.  This is going back as far as 2011/12. Now when you realise that the school went under consultation in the summer term of 2014 for redesignation from a BESD school to an ASD school and there was no mention of a financial deficit you wonder why it wasn’t noticed sooner.  In the redesignation consultation it clearly states that there is a need for this type of school in West Kent. tweet

The situation for us as parents is scary.  For many of us the input that the school has put into our children has changed them for the better,  our children are achieving academically,  our children are so different to the children that walked for the first time through the door and into their care. It’s not just a school to us,  it’s more than that. tweet

Now we are under immense pressure to jump ship when we don’t know what the future holds.  No final outcome has been made yet we are being offered other school places yet the LA are saying that this is a contingency plan.  We are having to make decisions that we don’t want to yet make but feel if we don’t we won’t have a place in a school for our children.  Friendships that have been so delicately nurtured,  as our kids find it hard to make friends, could be blown apart as we all live in different parts of the county.  The way our kids react to the change could result in very negative behaviours, possibly undoing all the time and effort already invested in our children. tweet

The clock is ticking, the fear is mounting,  the unknown is manifesting while the world keeps turning and the rest of the population keeps going about their daily lives. tweet

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There is still time for families in Kent to show their support and sign the petition today.
I know the difference this school has made to my friend’s child and as a consequence, the difference it has made to her family.

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