THE future of Hampshire’s vulnerable children could be put at risk by changes to vital services, it has been claimed.

Children and young people with deafness and vision impairment could be left behind as the way they receive support in schools is set to change from September.

One family said the decision had the potential to be “devastating”.

It is part of a Hampshire County Council move which is understood will save £708,000. The authority said the changes will ensure that specialist support will continue to be provided, while taking account of a “very challenging financial environment”.

But parents and charities hit back saying the changes will have a devastating effect on children’s future and said the council has decided that pounds and pence are more important than a good education.

The National Deaf Children’s Society and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said the changes to the Specialist Teacher Advisory Service (STAS) which were approved by civic officers at the end of May will see fewer support visits from specialist staff for pupils with mild deafness, a reduction in support from specialist teachers and mobility instructors for children with vision impairment, as well as fewer one-to-one visits and a reduction in specialised staff.

Susan White, from Romsey, said for her 11-year-old son Oliver this could mean having to leave mainstream education and his friends to attend a specialist school.

The Cupernham Junior School pupil has blue cone monochromatism, which means he is unable to see fine detail, needing everything enlarged. He is also completely colour blind, and has nystagmus, which means his eyes move uncontrollably.

Ms White said he has been well supported so far and teachers have adapted each lesson to his needs.

But now she fears that the changes will mean he won’t receive the same support and will be left behind.

She added: “If he has to move school he will be devastated. He should be given the support to do just as well as all his friends and reach his full potential.”

HCC said children will be visited based on need rather than impairment, and some youngsters may be visited more frequently: “The county council recognises the very specific educational needs of these vulnerable children.”