Many parents ,carers, teachers marched together across the UK yesterday protesting about funding cuts for Special Needs Children in schools.
Anna Kennedy OBE told crowds at the SEND Crisis March that “Our children deserve better!” – We have a full extract of her speech below which was delivered in Parliament Square.
by Anna Kennedy OBE
“It was really powerful to see so many families and supporters campaigning against special needs funding cuts in parliament square today and across the country making history.
It was 20 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 20 years old in September.
Have things got better?
Well I probably wouldnt be standing in Parliament Square today if they had , supporting the SEND National Crisis March.
I recently read an article in the media that no fewer than 78% of permanent exclusions are issued to those with SEND with 4000 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 LAs 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. Something my husband calls Woolly Word Bingo.
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 were really bad hostile and uncooperative it is common for that LA blame parents for the difficulties a child was having at school rather than acknowledging its the result of an unmet need.
· So that was 20 years ago, what has happened to make things better for children and young people who need essential support?
20 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.
· 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 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 standing in Parliament Square next to Gandhi’s statue in 20 years time again still marching for the #SendNationalCrisis !