"The special education needs system is in crisis"

Protestors gather at BCC headquarters on Walton Street
Protestors gather at BCC headquarters on Walton Street

Activists protested the cruel Government cuts to Special Education Needs (SEND) in Aylesbury Town Centre last week.

They are deeply unhappy with the ‘uphill struggle’ they face just to get their children the proper education they deserve and a decent start at life.

Many protestors talked about a 'broken system' where the most vulnerable were denied support

Many protestors talked about a 'broken system' where the most vulnerable were denied support

Protesters highlighted ‘a system falling apart’ in what has quickly become a ‘national crisis’.

They met in Market Square, where they protested outside Buckinghamshire County Council's building on Walton Street.

They were hoping to be met by a representative from Buckinghamshire County Council to discuss their concerns, however nobody from the council came out to meet them.

Paul Issacs, a campaigner for people with special educational needs spoke at the event.

Protest organiser Katherine Watts said: “Thing have got to change. The Government don’t realise the effects that cutting Special Educational Budgets are having on our children. Many are going years without an appropriate school placement and others face a lack of support including therapies in their placement. This has devastating knock on effects for their lives.

“We just want our kids to live up their potential. Right now, many aren’t getting the appropriate schooling. There’s no consistency and not all staff have the relevant training to help education SEND kids.

This was a nation-wide protest, with over 3600 members active on SEND Crisis facebook group that formed 30-40 regional protests countrywide. This is not a problem specific to Bucks, it's happening all over the UK.

Katherine continued: "Nobody is listening to us, and many are in crisis just dealing day to day with their families, and then they have to fight the system as well. It's exhausting.

Katherine revealed that parents are having to fork out thousands of pounds for independent reports on their child's conditions, as the County Council reports aren't good enough.

"People are remortgaging their houses just to pay for independent reports from solicitors, for legal support just to fight the system. If they really want the best for their kids they have to fight for it.

"We feel like we can't trust our local authority. The ECHP plans they are providing aren't specific enough for our children's needs. It's very difficult for us to have any confidence in the council or the schools giving out children the appropriate support.

"What is it going to take for the Government and LAs to listen to us?" After all there has been so much mental health issues amongst families, children and young people, some ending in tragedy, yet there is silence from the Government and LAs.”

Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said, "The County Council's services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities are a very high priority, and we continue to ensure that they receive the support they need. We are aware that there is significant pressure on national funding to support the growing demand for Special Educational Needs that is creating pressure on Local Authorities across the country including our own.

“Buckinghamshire has seen a significant rise in the number of children and young people with Education, Health and Care Plans and to address this, we have working intently with all our key stakeholders including Education, Health, Social Care, parents and carers to redesign the service, investing in additional resource so that we can improve the timeliness of our statutory assessments. We are starting to see the impact of this additional support and expect improved outcomes within the next few months. We are also working with the specialist sector to meet the growing demand and investing in additional capacity for those groups where we are seeing high levels of increased need.

“The march today highlighted the strongly held concerns of parents and carers of children and young people with SEND regarding the current national landscape. As an authority, Buckinghamshire County Council respects the voices that were raised in protest today, and we too wish to see the best possible outcomes for all those who need additional support to succeed.”