14th September 2021, 18:35
The new St Martin's School has opened its doors to students.
Both the Disability Society and the Special Needs Action Group have welcomed the opening. The Disability Society describes it as "long-awaited". The Special Needs Action Group says it is extremely pleased, describing the facilities as magnificent.
The Disability Society says the original St Martins was opened in September 1976 thanks to the fundraising of parents whose children were excluded from mainstream education. It says this donation then prompted the then AACR government to fully fund the rest of the new school.
The society says it has raised the issue of overcrowding in St Martin’s for many years. “Especially in 2012 when we brought to the attention of the then education minister that the birth of children with disabilities in Gibraltar had increase by 20% in the 3 years prior. Although not all children born with a disability would automatically attend St Martin’s school there is obviously a chance that a percentage of them would.”
It says the expansion of St Martin’s makes it necessary to expand St Bernadette’s Resource Centre, given that the majority of those who attend the school, due to a “shameful” lack of alternatives for over 16’s, will require the services of St Bernadette’s.
The Disability Society says it has already made suggestions to Government as to how best to achieve this expansion and would be willing to meet as stakeholders to further this discussion.
The Special Needs Action Group says it is a positive step in the right direction towards a brighter future for young people with special needs. It says therapists and further education or training programmes for over 16’s are also needed.
The pressure group says the students are all thrilled. It thanks the Department of Education and the staff at St Martins for ensuring that the school opened its doors this week.
GBC understands there will soon be an official opening of St Martin's School. We hope to bring you footage of the new facilities in the coming days.