Improve access to and the quality of SEN provision
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Thank you to all those who take the time to read this and sign the petition.
On 18th April 2018, the government announced that there will be a parliamentary inquiry into the current state of Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision because for a long time there have been rising concerns about access to SEN support and the quality of provision:
Our daughter Molly is 13 1/2 and has complex educational needs and health problems. For the last 9 years we have battled to get Molly the help she so desperately needs and deserves. Our family has been to hell and back and what Molly has experienced is appalling. Finally after all this time and after being forced to pay for legal representation, she has been granted an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) and a placement in a specialist school. Many are not so fortunate.
Unfortunately, for Molly, this came at a high price and it was not until Molly hit absolute rock bottom that this was granted. Molly is now waiting for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) treatment due to severe anxiety and depression and occassional suicidal thoughts. She has spent most of the last 2 months in hospital due to physical health problems linked to stress. She has not been to school for much of the last year and she has not been to school at all since February. Despite this, the school and Local Authority did not support Molly and we struggled along trying to teach her ourselves. We fought for a referral to the flexible learning team who have very limited resources meaning Molly has only just received an assessment now.
For years Molly has been physically and verbally bullied because of her differences and difficulties. She has been called "stupid", "spastic" and "retarded" so many times that this is what she thinks she is. Molly was hit daily throughout last year and was cornered within school by a gang who beat her up in September. She was then physically attacked a second time in November.
The police labelled these "hate crimes", the school on the other hand reprimanded us for over reacting by reporting the assaults. It was Molly who was isolated "for her own safety" and the bullies escaped with little sanction. The teachers did not react or respond to our concerns, the head teacher defended her school and did not agree to review the systems and processes that allowed the bullying to occur, the governors supported the head teacher, the Local authority said it was up to the school to investigate - which they refused to do and Ofsted said they would keep the concern on file but there was not much more they could do. So our question is who will safeguard vulnerable children and hold schools to account? Who will provide schools and individual children with the support they need to adequately manage SEN?
A debate has raged for years as to whether children with SEN should attend mainstream schools or specialist. The answer is that no one solution fits every child. That's the point children don't fit into neat little boxes and there should be options and choices for all children and families of children with SEN. At the moment there is chronic underfunding and a lack of specialist places available. This means the majority of children with SEN are taught in large mainstream schools with large classes, high pupil to staff ratios and by staff without the necessary training and expertise to understand and support them. This really has to change if we have any chance of improving things.
At the moment this is a silent problem and there are hundreds, probably thousands of children sufferring like Molly and being failed by the system. We want to use this petition to throw a spotlight on these widespread problems and urge the government to review AND reform the support that children with special educational needs receive.
Thanks again to those of you who have taken the time to read this and sign the petition.
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