ASH FIELD ACADEMY – PETITIONING FOR LEICESTER CITY COUNCIL TO DROP ITS PLANS TO WITHDRAW FUNDING FOR THE SCHOOL’S RESIDENTIAL SERVICE

ASH FIELD ACADEMY – PETITIONING FOR LEICESTER CITY COUNCIL TO DROP ITS PLANS TO WITHDRAW FUNDING FOR THE SCHOOL’S RESIDENTIAL SERVICE

Staff, students and parents from Ash Field Academy, a Leicester school for children with special educational needs and disabilities, will be lobbying and delivering a petition to Leicester City Hall (Charles Street)

at 4pm on Friday January 6

calling on the City Council to drop its plans to withdraw funding for the school’s residential service.

The event coincides with the end of a 3-month public consultation, which ends on January 9.

During this time, a petition, initiated by UNISON Leicester City, which represents support staff at the school, has attracted more than 3,000 signatures.

Tom Barker, the UNISON Steward based at the school, said:

“The residential unit at Ash Field provides outstanding education for the children that use it and greatly improves outcomes for some of the city and the county’s most vulnerable residents.

“The City Council justifies its proposals by saying that the service is ‘not equitable’ because it is only open to the students who attend the daytime school.

“This approach is wrong on so many levels. The way to make services more equitable should be to create more services, not to cut what little already exists in a race to the bottom.

“We understand that the government has withheld funding and prevented Local Authorities from topping up the budget for High Needs using General Reserves.

“But after more than a decade of austerity, our communities simply cannot take any more cuts. The City Council must work with us to campaign for genuine solutions to this funding crisis, because the city’s education system is nearing collapse.”

Penny Allsopp and her son Leo (17) who attends the residential service said:

“Please, if you can, attend the protest. We need to show the council that the people of Leicester understand Ash Field residential is essential bespoke education that isn’t available to us anywhere else.

“Without this, disabled children like me won’t be able to work with our friends towards independence and put into practice what we learn.

“Please help our voices be heard and Save Ash Field Resi.”

The petition states:

“The withdrawal of this funding is very likely to force Ash Field to close its residential setting.

“Ash Field does not receive sufficient funding from other sources to maintain the service without it.

“There are no comparable services offered by any other state-funded education setting in the city.

“This will have a devastating impact on the highly vulnerable pupils who attend, all of whom have complex special educational needs.

“It will also cause enormous upset and stress for their families and communities, and represent an immeasurable loss to the education landscape in Leicester.

“We believe that the withdrawal of this funding is a grave error.

“We call upon Leicester City Council to reconsider their proposal, and work with Ash Field and its stakeholders to preserve this badly-needed service.”

If it goes ahead, Leicester City Council’s plans will see the funding for Ash Field’s residential department beginning to be withdrawn in Autumn 2024.

More information about the event can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2971547569817403

The online petition can be accessed here: bit.ly/AshField

The public consultation document can be accessed here: https://consultations.leicester.gov.uk/sec/ash-field-academy/

 

Tom Barker

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