A mother has launched a petition to oppose West Sussex County Council’s policy to fully integrate children of all abilities at nursery.
Donna Wilson, 30, of Brendon Road, Worthing, has an autistic son who attends Kamelia Kids nursery, in Goring.
She is concerned that he will not be able to cope in situations involving large numbers of people and lots of noise.
She said: “West Sussex County Council has said this decision was made after extensive research found that children learn more when they are all mixed together.
“I can assure that is not the case for all children, especially not my son.
“It is not just an issue for children with special needs but all children because once one child causes a disturbance then it will have an effect on all of them.”
WSCC’s policy is due to be implemented at Easter.
A spokesperson for WSCC said: “Kamelia Kids is a privately-run nursery which has taken the decision to fully integrate children of all abilities throughout the nursery. This is in line with local and national policy which aims to enhance the learning opportunities for all children and give those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) a chance to move on more easily to their next stage of education.
“We worked very closely with parent carers of children and young people with SEND when developing our latest SEND strategy and they have been supportive of this approach. The nursery has reassured us that staff will discuss any individual concerns directly with parents.
“Kamelia Kids, previously the Camelia Botnar Children’s Centre, provides a very good service which we have endeavoured to support over a number of years.
“Support has included funding the facility to save it from closure in 2014, offering financial advice including income possibilities, and additional grants including £30,000 in 2016.
“We will continue to support the centre where possible and would like to reassure parents that we will do our utmost to protect their children’s access to early years childcare.”
Kamelia Kids has said it will work with WSCC to discuss the best way forward for children in its care.
A spokesman for nursery said: “The Nursery continues to work closely with WSCC in discussing the best way forward for individual children in our care, bearing in mind local and national strategies.
“We have received funding from WSCC for which we are grateful. We are also grateful for the continuing support the charity receives through charitable giving from individuals and sponsors.
Mrs Wilson has launched a petition on 38 degrees called ‘Save the Kamelia Kids special needs unit’ and hopes to obtain 10,000 signatures so government can respond.
She added: “I know so many people who are annoyed by this policy but nothing has been done to stop it.
“Not me though. I am determined to fight against this.”
If you would like to support Donna and Judy then you can do so by signing the petition here.
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