Parents fury as children's language unit earmarked for closure

Tue, 07/02/2012 - 14:16 -- Editor

Staff and parents at the Woodlands Language Unit at Belmont House school are devastated that their centre has been earmarked for closure.

The unit caters for 40 pupils with speech and language difficulties.

Parents of children who attend Woodlands contacted Newswire today, speaking of their anger and frustration at the proposed closure.

Caroline McCleary, whose son attends the unit said: "We were informed of the closure on Monday by letter. I am absolutely fuming that they could do this. This unit has been a true lifeline for my son and our family and I'll be damned if I'm gonna take this lying down. This is my son's future they're messing with."The unit caters for forty pupils who have speech and language difficulties

Belmont House School Principal Nuala Begley said that the Board of Governors were meeting this afternoon to discuss the issue and would be releasing a statement to the press shortly. She said that the proposed closure was due to new government legislation and that all her staff and parents were devastated by the plans.

SDLP Foyle MLA and Chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Learning Disability, Pat Ramsey, has expressed anger and concern at news that the Woodlands Language Unit at Belmont House in Derry has been earmarked for closure.

Mr Ramsey has tabled an urgent question to the Health Minister to give an explanation for the closure.

Mr Ramsey said:“I am very concerned that parents of children who avail of the service were informed of the proposed closure just on Monday in writing, which has caused anxiety for the future of what is a vital service for their children. I have tabled an Urgent Oral request in the Assembly this morning which will, if accepted, require the Minister to come to the House and explain the rationale for the proposed closure.

“I share the anger of the local community that the move has been communicated in such a way, and that no consultation was brought forward with parents prior to the letter being issued. We cannot afford to lose this unit and I intend to question the Minister and the Department further on this matter."