For me it’s sad to see many parents and carers, will once again march together across London and across the UK protesting for SEND Reform.

 

‘I believe your aim is to propose a reform of the EHCp plan process ensuring children with disabilities are treated fair and equal and the end result is an education that SEN children can thrive and learn with a robust system that holds both LA’s and the government accountable should they fail their own standards and criteria. ‘

 

I remember when

I marched in 2019 with the SEND Crisis March again alongside parents, carers and supporters.

 

It was over 25 years ago when I started the fight for both my sons and so many others that couldnt get the educational provision our children needed.

After my sons were at home for a couple of years receiving only 5 hours home tuition per week and I only received 3 hours respite a week.

I became so tired and frustrated with the system in place. I was hungry for information and was reading many books and articles on how early intervention is crucial for our children. I could wait no longer so my husband and I and many other frustrated parents set up a school which is now 25 years old.

 

After all these years I ask myself once again Have things got better?

 

Well I probably wouldnt be hearing about the SEND Reform March or writing this article if it had !

 

Often I read articles in the media that no fewer than 78% of permanent exclusions are issued to those with SEND with more than 4000 or more special needs students being excluded every week.

Our children deserve better!

 

 

This whole SEND system has been changed so many times throughout the years and in my opinion making it more and more difficult for parents to navigate and climb over hurdles and learn the SEN language. Many parents trusted the LA’s and many have now learned not to believe everything their Local Education Authority says. Reports sometimes written in such a way that they not worth the paper they are written on.

 

Parents spend endless hours attending endless meetings, stress and for many people family break down. Parents trying to do the right thing for their children are often dismissed and seen as pushy and being unreasonable.

When things become really bad or hostile and uncooperative it is common for the LA to blame parents for the difficulties a child is having at school rather than acknowledging its the result of an unmet need.

 

Developments

 

So that was over 25 years ago, what has happened to make things better for children and young people who need essential support?

 

25 years is a long time, in fact you could fight World War 1 five times during this period.

 

Statements of special educational needs have been replaced by Education Health and Care plans. This is an attempt to collate educational, health and social care needs in one place and match these with the provision required to meet these needs.

The rights allowing educational inclusion have been strengthened.

 

Disability legislation, particularly the Equality Act 2010 have, in theory at least, strengthened the protections available to individuals with a disability.

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All in all, these developments are positive.

 

But what is it like now?

 

I would like to say that things are much better now than they used to be, but I can’t.

 

As a charity these are the problems we hear about on a weekly basis:

 

We still hear from schools who tell us that they are starved of the funding needed to effectively teach children with special educational needs

 

Children and young people being excluded rather than having their needs met.

 

Lengthy waits to obtain a diagnosis on average 5 years!

 

Lack of post 16 provision

The list goes on and on…

 

Parents are still getting bogged down in SEN bureaucracy

 

What is to be done?

 

The problems are many, but the solution in my opinion is relatively simple.

 

The Government needs to recognise that to make the legislation work, they need to provide the right level of funding.

At local level there needs to be more independent oversight to proven service failure. This means making local authorities genuinely accountable for their failure to deliver.

 

THIS HAS GOT TO HAPPEN !!!

 

The last thing I want is to be seeing of hearing about more groups of parents in 5 years time marching to Parliament Square where I stood next to Gandhi’s statue in 30 years time again still marching for the SEND Reform being a Send National Crisis !

 

I am sorry I cannot March with you on the day however, I will wear my SEND Reform Tshirt on the day and follow your progress. Good Luck and stay strong 💪

 

Please sign their petition

www.change.org/p/reform-the-send-education-in-the-uk

 

 

Anna Kennedy OBE

 

 

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