Protest planned outside Peterborough council meeting over ‘crisis’ for children with special education needs

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A protest is due to be held outside a council meeting in Peterborough over the ‘crisis’ for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Campaigners are arguing that children with SEND are being wrongly excluded from schools and are facing delays receiving their Educational, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) as budget pressures bite.

The protest over SEND funding and support in Bridge Street

The protest over SEND funding and support in Bridge Street

A protest in Bridge Street was previously held by angry parents and their supporters as part of a national day of action, and the latest action will take place outside the Town Hall on Wednesday, July 24 from 7pm.

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Nazreen Bibi, who co-ordinated the previous protest in Peterborough, which was led by SEND National Crisis, said: “There are currently a significantly high number of children who have special education needs and disabilities being excluded from schools whilst the schools continue to have these children enrolled as pupils.

“Often these children are waiting for Educational, Health and Care Plans.

“The pressure for creating savings increases off-rolling in schools which has become common practice.

“The wider impact of this practice effects the whole family unit as parents struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance, but most importantly their child’s future attainment and progress is significantly effected as vital early intervention are denied.”

The Government has stated that the amount allocated for high needs funding has increased from £5 billion in 2013 to £6.3 billion this year.

Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council have created a joint assistant director post to focus on SEND, co-produced a joint SEND strategy and staged an SEND conference this year.

Cllr Lynne Ayres, city council cabinet member for education, previously told the PT: “Nationally, the number of exclusions for pupils with SEND remains high and Peterborough has a similar profile to the national picture.

“We continue to do everything we can to support SEND pupils, including updating our guidance to schools on the use of part-time timetables, keeping a close eye on the numbers of pupils being taken off-roll and running a city-wide SEND conference later this year.

“We have also created a joint pledge report that everyone working with SEND pupils in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has signed up to detailing the expected the levels of educational support we all need to provide. This can be viewed on www.peterborough.gov.uk.

“We too have concerns around the lack of funding for high needs pupils and we pledge to assist parents by raising this at a national level at every opportunity.”