Deaf pupils pin hopes on a Commons battle

THE fight to save one of Camden s most successful special needs schools has moved to the House of Commons

Ben McPartland

THE fight to save one of Camden's most successful special needs schools has moved to the House of Commons.

Labour MP Frank Dobson, who is leading the battle to prevent Swiss Cottage's Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children from closing, has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament.

The school on Harley Road faces an uncertain future as it is due to be bulldozed to make way for Camden's new academy school on the same site.

The parliamentary motion, which has already been signed by nearly 40 MPs, is a bid to raise awareness of the plight of the awarding-winning primary school.

Mr Dobson, MP for Holborn and St Pancras said: "These plans would be disastrous for the teaching of deaf children and closure should be prevented."

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If the motion gains enough support it may be discussed openly in a debate between MPs in the House of Commons.

The signatories include Malcolm Bruce, the Lib Dem MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on deafness, the group's vice chairman Labour's Tom Levitt and several Tory MPs. Hampstead and Highgate MP Glenda Jackson is also supporting the campaign.

Mike Katz, a governor at Frank Barnes, said: "It's great that our local MPs and MPs from all the three main parties are supporting Frank Barnes.

"It shows that concern over our future goes well beyond Camden's boundaries and that MPs understand how important it is that we are able to continue giving deaf children a proper British Sign Language (BSL) education."

The Early Day Motion comes as Camden Council is carrying out ongoing public consultation on future options for the school.

The council wants it to merge with Blanche Nevile school for deaf children in neighbouring Haringey, because of falling pupil numbers at Frank Barnes.

But protesters warn this could affect the education of some of its pupils.

Frank Barnes staff and their supporters favour proposals to rebuild the school alongside a Camden Council primary, either Edith Neville in Somers Town or Primrose Hill.