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Hollow victory.

After pieces of masonry began falling off Joseph Leckie Community Technology College, the pupils decided it was time to take matters into their own hands.

Armed with the latest cutting edge technology, they made a DVD recording the school's increasing dilapidation and then ambushed a visiting Government Minister.

Several months down the line and the pupils and staff at the Walsall school are now celebrating after the local LEA decided to allocate a substantial portion of a pounds 12 million grant towards renovating the school's buildings. A good deal less than the pounds 25 million needed to rebuild the entire school, but a victory nonetheless.

But although it may be a victory for the good people of Joseph Leckie Community Technology College it is an extremely hollow one.

To find the funds to renovate Joseph Leckie, Walsall Council has been granted special permission to use a grant that had been earmarked for two of the borough's special schools for the disabled, Mary Elliott and Daw End.

While one of the schools had already been allocated its share of the money, the other has now been left with the prospect of waiting years before it can enjoy the much needed improvements being afforded to Joseph Leckie. One can only speculate as to how the local authority came to its decision that one school's need for funding was greater than another but, whatever its thinking, it leaves a bad taste.

While education funding is a perennial headache for the nation's LEAs, to rob Peter to pay Paul is no way to run a local authority, particularly when Peter represents some of the most needy and vulnerable in our society.

Special education desperately needs proper continued investment and should not be the first to suffer when the money counters are trying to balance the books.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 30, 2005
Words:302
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