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Falklands : LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY THURSDAY, 25 JULY 2013
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 27.07.2013 (Article Archived on 24.08.2013)

A meeting of legislative Assembly took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 0930hrs on Thursday, 25 July 2013. Present were the Speaker, the Hon Mr Keith Biles, the Clerk of Assembly, Mrs Claudette Prior, the Chief Executive, the Hon Mr Keith Padgett, the Attorney General Mr mark Lewis, the Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands Russell William La Forte, CBE, MA, BA, RAF (Nicola Granger, Mark Lewis) and MLAs Cheek, Elsby, Edwards, Hansen, Sawle and Short.





LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY THURSDAY, 25 JULY 2013



(Part 1 Papers and Questions for oral Answer)



 



By J.
Brock (FINN)



 



A meeting of legislative Assembly
took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 0930hrs on
Thursday, 25 July 2013.  Present were the
Speaker, the Hon Mr Keith Biles, the Clerk of Assembly, Mrs Claudette Prior,
the Chief Executive, the Hon Mr Keith Padgett, the Attorney General Mr mark
Lewis, the Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands Russell William La Forte,
CBE, MA, BA, RAF (Nicola Granger, Mark Lewis) and MLAs Cheek, Elsby, Edwards,
Hansen, Sawle and Short.



 



Prayers were said by the Rev Mrs
Kathy Biles of Christ Church Cathedral. 
After the usual warning about mobile phones by the Speaker, the Hon Mr
Keith Biles there was an election of the Deputy Speaker of the House.  As the Speaker would be out of the Islands
during the final meeting of this Assembly it is necessary for MLAs to elect a
Deputy Speaker to preside at that meeting and serve until the dissolution of
this Legislative Assembly, probably in September. Only one person had been
nominated by the Hon Gavin Short nominated Mr John Richard Cockwell, OBE.  An election was held and he was unanimously
elected as Deputy Speaker.  He was
administered the Oath of Office and was given a Legislative Assembly tie.  The Commander British Forces South Atlantic
Islands Russell William La Forte, CBE, MA, BA, RAF then took his Oath of Office
and was also presented with a tie.



 



Next the confirmations of the
reports of the sittings of Legislative Assembly held on 04 June, 06 June and 02
July 2013 were carried out and signed as a true record. 



 



PAPERS



 



Papers to be Laid on the Table by The
Honourable the Chief Executive; Copies of Subsidiary Legislation published in
the Falkland Islands Gazette since the last sitting of the Legislative Assembly
and Laid on the Table pursuant to section 34(1) of the Interpretation and
General Clauses Ordinance 1977.



 



 



1.    
Capital Equalisation Fund Order 2013



 



 



In accordance with Section 80 (2)
of the Constitution the report of the Public Account Committee in respect of:



 



2.    
Falkland
Islands Conservation Accounts  2012



 



3.    
Stanley
Services Ltd Accounts 2011 & 2012



4.    
Falkland
Islands Development Corporation Accounts 2012



 



and in accordance with section
11(C) of the Public Accounts Committee Ordinance 2009 comments on the:



 



5.    
Audit
Completion Report year ended 30 June 2012



 



 



 



Questions
for Oral Reply



 



Question
Number 11/13 by the Honourable Barry Elsby



 



Would the Hon Jan Cheek advise
what proportion of the current school student population are classified as
having “Special Educational Needs”, and if this exceeds the incidence presently
seen in a similar population in UK?  If
there is a significant difference, to what factors is this attributed?



 



JC:  Mr Speaker, Honourable members,
It’s not really possible to compare the Falkland Islands with a similar
population in the UK.  This is because
even if we decided to look at a relatively isolated location with around the
same number of people, a significant number of resident children with special
educational needs would be in education outside that locality.  Despite increasing inclusion in mainstream
schools over recent years, County Councils still concentrate expertise and
funding on special schools and schools with additional special educational
needs facilities.



 



Also academy and free schools have
an element of selectivity and most independent secondary schools are entirely
selective.  And making a meaningful
comparison therefore the broad UK average level of special educational needs in
schools has been raised.



 



A direct comparison clearly shows
that the number of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities in
the Falkland Islands, as a percentage of the school role is higher than the UK
average and I have some actual figures:



 



School, IJS, 4 pupils in an
average class have special educational needs – 25.3%.  The UK national average would be 18.5%.  It varies year on year.  We are aware of this in results as well but
one exceptional year group, for example, if I am correct have 57% of the students
with some degree of special needs.



 



The Community School Special
Educational Needs Level in comparison to the UK – in the secondary schools
here, we have 26%; the UK national average would be 21%.



 



Another issue which are not
directly specified as special educational needs is those with English as an
additional language.  And increasing
numbers of people with English as an additional language in recent years have
added to the cost of education on Island and have taken educational resources away
from special educational needs and mainstream education.



 



However, those statistics are not
reported as part of the special needs percentage, so they shouldn’t be seen as
a factor, except in so far as it is a drain on resources that might otherwise
have been directed towards special educational needs issues.



 



There are likely reasons would
require a detailed study to accurately determine the reasons for high-level
special educational needs in the Islands and even then only two studies might
provide different answers. 



 



There are many types of special
educational needs.  For many the causes
are still unknown although genetic factors, health and environmental factors
are implicated in some conditions.  Some
are as simple as a small delay in speech development which can be overcome by
early and effective intervention which is one of the reasons we employ a
specialist therapist.



 



However, there are some general
statements that can be made and I am indebted to Tom Hoil, Acting Director of
Education for these.  One of our own
unique contexts – we provide for all primary and secondary aged pupils on the
Islands.  There are no specialised
providers and this means that children who are included on the roles of both
schools who will be educated in special facilities in the UK. 



 



Small numbers or high levels of
special educational needs do not exist in all year groups.  Table 2 gives an example of a current year group
which is significantly above our national average and very much above the
national average in the UK.  That of
course means there are year groups that are significantly below that
average.  In dealing with small numbers,
statistics can vary widely and can be misleading.  This alters the issue of parental
choice.  A small number of parents do not
allow their children to be assessed for special educational needs at an early
enough stage.  In the UK, parents who
would not accept that their children required assessment when their school had identified
issues, they could be told that the school could not continue to educate their
child on that basis because there are options and they can take their child
elsewhere.  In the Falkland Islands there
are no other educational providers and this cannot happen.  This can result in a late diagnosis, which in
turn means that the correct help is provided late and issues persist longer than
necessary.



 



More speculatively, he says that
failure to education and the cost of historical efforts of some specialised teaching
in the Islands has possibly meant that children with specific issues may not
have progressed as well as they might well have done.  These children remain on the special
education register when, with help, they might have left it.  And, this increases the numbers.



 



Another issue, and I think this is
evident elsewhere, is improvements in diagnosis and particularly elements of the
autism spectrum where more specialist diagnosis have allowed the clearing up of
a backlog of cases which needed diagnosis. 
And many children leave the special educational needs register after
successful interventions.  So while
recent diagnosis may have picked up undetected issues, identification should
remove these after they have the proper support.



 



You will also be aware that we
have a great number of learning support assistants in order that children with
special needs can access most of the curriculum.



 



I am afraid I would have to be an
expert, which I am not, in these things to accurately and confidently attribute
it to being multi-factorial.



 



BE:  Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I would like
to thank my Honourable Colleague for her detailed question (answer).  It is disturbing that we have such a high
incidence of special educational needs in the Islands and as my honourable
colleague says, it is multi-factorial. 
She is not an expert.  I
appreciate that.  But would she not agree
with me that it’s time we had an expert team to visit here to look into why
some of our classes have up to 57% have (with) special educational needs?  And if there is a short-fall in financial
input, should we not be making more financial input to help these people?



 



JC:  I am not sure that getting a team
down here at one moment in time to identify these potential problems; it’s part
of the whole assessment of a child which starts as soon as it is born.  The health visitor’s rile is to monitor the
development of children and some of these problems are picked up early and
others are not recognised for various reasons. 
A lot of money, as you will see from the answer to your next question,
is already spent on individual cases and we do have an increasing number of
visiting Psychologists and Psychiatrists who, on each of their visits, see most
of the more serious cases of special educational needs.



 



It’s strictly my opinion but I
don’t think that bringing down for a limited period would solve the
problem.  We could do a study.  I am not sure it would be any more conclusive.  I have looked at the National Health Website;
I have looked at websites of the various societies that support families of
children with autism and other problems. 
There is a great deal of scientific work being done currently.  I hope our children will ultimately benefit
from that.  I don’t think there is any
simple quick fix answer now.



 



BE:  Thank-you again, my Honourable Colleague, for
your answer.  I know there is no quick
fix but if there was a problem, as a scientist, I would attack that problem by
first trying to look for a cause.  There
might not be a cause but if we have 57% of some year groups classified as
having some special educational needs and a higher incidence than in the United
Kingdom, I feel we have a duty to our children to ask experts to look into
possible causation.  There might not be a
cause but if we are missing something, we are not doing the best for our
children.



 



JC:  As you have said, I think that is a very – I
would point out that that is a single class…



 



BE:   Indeed.



 



JC:  …although an exceptional one.  You will see from the average that other
classes are lower than that and they are lower than the UK average also.  But the conditions which require these
special educational interventions are so wide and we could find one cause of
one condition perhaps.  There are various
things.  I have studied the literature on
this over the last 45 years and it was my special interest when I trained as a
teacher.  But hereditary factors and not
environmental factors affected children’s ability to learn. 



 



There are massive studies going on
and some link, for example, the father’s age to autism.  There seems to be a correlation.  There are other suggestions that smoking –
exposure to smoking during pregnancy can affect the development of the child –
and that’s not just the physical development – it’s the mental development or
other conditions attributed to excessive alcohol intake.  There are very simple things like
inconsistent parenting that can have an effect on a child’s ability to access
education adequately.



 



There are so many reasons, I am
not sure one study would answer the question for us.  That is the point I am trying to make.  But I am hoping we can benefit from the
studies that are going around much wider populations in countries where they
have more scientists dedicated to that work and I am afraid I can’t be more
conclusive than that.



 



BE:  Thank-you again for that question
(answer).  As a compromise, would it be
possible for you to write to the visiting clinical Psychologists and as them
how they might attack the problem.  Had
they had visits here?  Have they been
exposed to our children? They could perhaps tell us whether special
intervention would be beneficial or not.



 



JC:  I would be happy to do that.



 



 



Question
Number 12/13 by the Honourable Barry Elsby



 



Could the Hon. Jan Cheek advise
the House how much money the Falkland Island(s’) Government has spent in the
last 10 years educating Falkland Island(s’) children with Special Educational
Needs in the UK, including all accommodation, flights etc?



 



JC:  Mr Speaker, Honourable members, because of
the wide spread of special educational needs, this issue is covered by more
than one department.  And, I have been
supplied with approximate figures for the last three years by one department
and for the last 10 by another.  And
although some include accommodation as most of the placements are residential,
they do not include all airfares and other expenses.



 



Based on that incomplete
information, I estimate that for the last 3 years the Falkland Islands
Government has spent around £500,000.00 per year.  Further research is required before I can
give a comprehensive and accurate answer. 
I also have to be careful to preserve confidentiality because of the
small numbers of the people involved.



 



Timing and length of placements
vary.  In some of the 10 years on which
you request information we would have been funding only one or two placements
so the expenditure in those years would have been considerably less.



 



A number of our students have been
educated overseas to cater for exceptional special educational needs.  Every case is unique and in most there has
been a varying level of parental contribution.



 



In some cases parents have made
the difficult decision to uproot the whole family in what they see is the best
way for their child’s particular needs to be met.  In some cases, the support from the Falkland
Islands Government has been limited to airfares and assistance with
accommodation for a short period.



 



I apologise for the fact that I am
not yet in a position to give a complete answer.  I have consulted with the Financial Secretary
and I suggest that we refer to the treasury for a complete answer because they
would be able to pick up records of expenditure where it has been from different
departments.



 



BE: I thank
my Honourable Colleague for that reply. 
On my understanding, £500,000.00 per year over the last three years is
£1.5 Million.  That could stretch to 10
years so we could be talking about £5Million over the last 10 years.  We just don’t know yet.



 



Bearing in mind your answer to the
previous question where you say that not enough financial input is being placed
into children’s special educational needs within the Islands, would she not
agree with me that if we spent more money in the Islands, not only would we
benefit those people within the Islands but perhaps some people who we have
sent away might not need to go away and be separated from their families?



 



JC:  It is the case that some of the people sent
away have been so because we simply could not cater for them in the
Islands.  I would be very happy in the
future to see more facilities in the Islands – apart from anything else,
families should not – except in the most extreme circumstances – have to
up-root themselves.  Also, facilities in
the Islands would benefit more of the children with special needs.



 



One of the things which we have
been working on but with limitations in previous years of this assembly is the
“Vulnerable People Strategy,” which would benefit not only students but older
people with special needs; and in the long-term we could be looking at
sheltered workshops, sheltered living facilities, support for living as
independently as people can.  Some with
severe needs will never live independently but they can be given a greater measure
of independence.  And obviously, if and
when we can do this in the Islands for a good many of these people it would be
excellent.



 



It has been delayed and I feel (I
could be accused of making excuses) but it has been delayed by movement of
staff and the fact we need considerable input from Social Services Department,
which in recent history has not been fully staffed or when it has been, it has
been staffed by short-term locums who we have not been able to replace because
there are higher priorities.



 



BE:  Thank-you.



 



Question
Number 13/13 by the Honourable Barry Elsby



 



CP:  This question was directed originally to the
Hon Sharon Halford as portfolio holder of the department but she is absent
today and will be answered by the Hon Jan Cheek.



 



Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I
would first like to say that although I am a doctor this question was raised in
my capacity as an MLA because people, particularly from the Chilean community,
have approached and asked why this wasn’t available.



 



Hepatitis
B is a blood borne and sexually transmitted infection that leads to liver
cancer and chronic liver disease. The World Health Organisation recommends that
all people under the age of 18 years and others at higher risk should be
vaccinated.



 



In
2008 the Hospital and Medical Services Committee agreed to introduce a
vaccination campaign to protect against Hepatitis B, but only for new-borns.
The committee declined to fund a “catch-up” campaign as has happened for other
newly introduced vaccinations.



 



This
means that anyone born before that time is susceptible to this potentially
fatal disease.



 



Does the Hon It was going to be
the Hon Sharon Halford but it is now the Hon Jan Cheek agree it is time for the
Hospital and Medical Services Committee to
reconsider this decision and recommend the allocation of funds for a catch-up
campaign so as to protect those at risk? 



 



JC:  The answer which was supplied to the
Honourable Sharon Halford is that the Honourable Barry Elsby raises an important
issue and it will be discussed with the new director of Health and Social
Services and the Chief Medical officer on her return from leave, with a view to
this matter being further considered in the context also of improved sex
education and awareness at a future meeting of the Health and Medical Services
Committee.



 



BE:  I would like to thank my Honourable Colleague
for that question – for the answer.



 



 



MOTIONS



 



 



Motion
No 7 of 2013 by the Honourable Dick Sawle:



 



“This House is recommended to
approve the adoption of the amendments and additions to Standing Rules and
Orders as detailed on the papers distributed to each Member and available to
them at this sitting.”



 



DS:  Mr Speaker, in proposing this Motion I would
like to give a brief explanation.  The
changes in Members’ remuneration and the closer definition of a Member’s role
will require changes to the standing orders of this House.  Those amendments are detailed – outlined in
yellow – on the papers available now to each member.



 



They may be summarised very
briefly as follows:



 



The main edition is a new schedule
to Standing Orde

 

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