Autism: A lifelong disability...

Ogilvie school campus, Livingston
Ogilvie school campus, Livingston

The mother of an autistic school boy fears West Lothian Council’s plans to move his special unit will cause her son undue stress

Thomas MacPherson, of Bridgend, is currently a pupil at Ogilvie School Campus in Livingston but the council is proposing to move the autism unit to St Mary’s Primary in Polbeth.

It is part of a raft of changes to special needs provision proposed by the council.

Mum Vicki believes the change would be a huge disruption for Thomas.

She said: “A move like this is an issue for a child with autism. Any change can mess them up for months.

“The council is planning on moving them in August, when Thomas will go into primary seven, and then again the following August for secondary school.

“He gets eczema from head to toe and pulls out his hair and his eyelashes when he gets stressed. He will also become withdrawn.

“He won’t learn anything in the last year that he has at primary school.

“We haven’t got a straight answer as to why they are moving our kids – I’d heard it was to make way for three new primary one classes starting.

“Why not send them elsewhere and keep the children who are at the school where they are?”

A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “Statutory consultation is currently taking place on proposals to make changes and improvements to provision for pupils who have additional support needs (ASN).

“Changes are required to continue to improve the quality of education delivered to the growing number of children with ASN in West Lothian.

“With a growing younger population, it’s important we invest wisely in long-term plans that will enable us to continue to improve the quality of education we can provide for our young people.

“If approved, we plan to support this change with investment in facilities and staff.

“Transitioning would be a planned and flexible process over several years to ensure success for all involved.

“Council officers are meeting interested parties to seek their views and discuss any concerns that they may have.

“The consultation ends on January 31, when the information will be passed to HM Inspectors to enable them to produce a report.”

A decision on the proposals will be made by the education executive.