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Caithness News Bulletins January 2003

January 2003 Caithness.org News 2002

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Schools And Education      

New Education Service launched in Highland

A new education service in Highland - to help better involve children with additional support needs in mainstream education – was launched in Inverness today (Wednesday 15 January 2003).

The newly-formed Children in the Highlands Education Support Service (CHESS) has attracted £200,000 from the Scottish Executive’s Special Educational Needs Innovation Grant to pilot the scheme until March 2004. This is one of the largest grants given by the Executive to a local organisation, and the partnership approach being taken is unique in Scotland.

Those requiring additional support will typically be children with a sensory impairment or learning or physical disability and it is estimated that one child in 20 will develop this support at some point during their education..

The project aims to enable them and their parents to participate fully in their education and the decisions within that education that affect them by providing ready access to information and advice about educational needs and services.

The project also sets out to improve links between mainstream and special schools and to promote the sharing of skills and expertise between them.

Through its voluntary sector partners, CHESS has recruited seven Education Support Advisers, who have been trained to enable them to offer this specialist support service to families and teachers alike. Demand for the service is proving high with more than 40 enquiries being received even before the project has been launched.

The partners in CHESS are Children in the Highlands Information Point, The Highland Council, Highland Developmental Co-ordination Disorders, Highland Dyslexia Association, NHS Highland, Positive Parenting and the Scottish Society for Autism.

CHESS Chairman Alastair Hamilton said: "This is an important new service that will have benefits for all children in Highland schools. We have an ambitious programme of training and support that will improve the quality of education received by some of our more excluded children. This will improve their ability to contribute fully as a members of our community."

Councillor Margaret Davidson, who is the Council spokesman on children’s services, said: "I am delighted that these various, respected organisations are working together to provide this service in partnership with the Council and NHS. Children with disabilities and their families will benefit greatly from this excellent example of team working in Highland."

The Highland Council’s Director of Education, Culture and Sport Bruce Robertson said: "I welcome this new service, that has been developed in partnership between parents, voluntary organisations and officers of the Council and NHS. I appreciate the importance of providing good, quality information to families, about the range of special educational needs in a user-friendly way. I have great hopes for the success of CHESS."