Parents Attack Deaf School Closure

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Byline: By Cathy Spencer

Angry parents have blasted plans to close a pioneering school for the deaf.

For over 160 years Northern Counties School in Newcastle has provided thousands of disabled youngsters with an education they couldn't get anywhere else.

Now the school, of which Diana, Princess of Wales, was patron, may have to close in July 2005 when funds will have been exhausted.

The school blames the Government for encouraging children with special needs to attend mainstream schools.

But parent Martin Lone says it would be child abuse to put his son Matthew into mainstream education.

Matthew, 13, from Hebburn, South Tyneside, who is profoundly deaf and suffers from cerebral palsy and learning difficulties, has been a pupil at Northern Counties School since he was four years old.

Mr Lone says the care and attention staff give his son is invaluable and he would suffer in mainstream education.

He said: "We fought long and hard to get Matthew into a school which I believe is a centre of excellence for the North East.

"Tony Blair and his cronies should have a look at the school before they decide to close it and they would see how valuable it is to people in the North.

"There are children at the school who can't cope in mainstream education or other special schools but thrive at Northern Counties School. …