North Wales School For Autistic Youngsters Praised

PARENTS of children at a school for autistic youngsters have backed the school following a father’s protest at its standard of care.

David Balmer last week mounted a one-man demo outside Denbighshire Council offices over the quality of care at Denbigh’s Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn.

But yesterday other parents came out in support of the school, insisting there was no need to call on education minister Jane Hutt to intervene.

Mr Balmer, whose 15-year-old son goes to the school, wrote on a placard: “We demand an independent inquiry into the management and running of the school.”

He was referring to reports in 2006 and 2007 which found a shortfall in legal minimum standards of care in Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn’s 38-week residential section Gerddi Glasfryn.

Yesterday, Debbie Goodfir-Evans, the mother of a 17-year-old at the centre, said the failings were few and “minor” and related to administration matters with no bearing on care issues.

She said: “My son gets everything he needs from staff at the school and the hostel. It gives him the opportunity to make friends, develops his living skills and broadens his social circle. The staff are brilliant, they really do have a difficult job to do – they should be given medals. They certainly don’t deserve to be left devastated by this ridiculous campaign.”

Parents Stuart and Carol Guy, whose 16-year-old son Joe lives at the centre added: “We have nothing but the highest respect and gratitude for the head and all of the staff at the school.

“Joseph started at Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn a week after his third birthday in a newly-opened nursery class. For the first term he was the only child in it.

“He was a terrified, isolated little boy incapable of speech and with no comprehension of sound locked in his own frightening world rocking, screaming and crying. Any change produced major tantrums, terrifying to behold.

“Looking at Joe now it’s hard to recognise that terrified, little boy. He is a happy, contented, loving, young man always up for a laugh, with a wicked sense of humour and a heart-warming smile. This is what the staff at Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn and Gerddi Glasfryn are responsible for.”

Sue Askins from Llanbedr DC said she campaigned for better facilities while her son was at the school but said that standards of care were “first class.”

She said: “For my son’s final three years he was a residential student two nights a week at Gerddi Glasfryn and he received a level of care, in first class facilities, which I haven’t seen anywhere else.

“The waiting list for pupils to attend the residential provision demonstrates its success.”

Mr Balmer said he had asked for a change of placement for his son and was backed by Shadow Education Minister Janet Ryder AM, but he said the authorities had refused his request.

But A Denbighshire County Council spokeswoman said: “Gerddi Glasfryn is due to be reinspected by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) in November 2008.

“The council is now working with the school to ensure all outstanding recommendations are addressed.”

She added: “The council acknowledges that this re-inspection highlighted a number of outstanding recommendations from the previous inspection of August 2006.”