Local mum says integrating SEND children to mainstream school could damage their education - The Leamington Observer

Local mum says integrating SEND children to mainstream school could damage their education

Catherine Thompson 14th Dec, 2020 Updated: 14th Dec, 2020   0

INTEGRATING children with learning difficulties and disabilities into mainstream schools could damage their education, says a Warwickshire mum.

Plans by Warwickshire County Council to place children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) into mainstream schools have prompted an outcry from parents who say there is a lack of understanding around the complex situations of families with SEND children.

A ‘SEND and Inclusion Change Programme’ was approved by WCC in July which includes plans for specialist provision attached to mainstream schools – a move they say aims to be more inclusive.

Kate Morris from Kenilworth has a 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, and nine-year-old son, Oliver, whose conditions fall under the autism spectrum.

Hannah is in a specialist school, and is due to move to a specialist college next year, while Oliver attends an alternative education provision in Stratford, after being out of school for almost five years due to trauma, phobia and anxiety.

She says the council is trying to remove his current provision and place him in a mainstream school over an hour away, despite his family’s objections.

Meanwhile, her daughter was left without a school place for six months as she waited for her educational health care plan (EHCP) to be completed by the authority before transitioning to secondary school. And now she is preparing for college with the same plan created when she was ten.

Kate says applying for reassessments is a constant battle and described the EHCPs as ‘vague’ with ‘generic statements’.

She told the Observer: “Both myself and my husband have had periods out of work and struggled to hold down full time work between us because battling the system is a full time job. You are constantly having meetings, phone calls, sending emails and the council is particularly bad at responding.

“I have suffered with depression, anxiety and stress as a result of underfunding, lack of support, resources and inappropriate or lack of provision. At times, our whole family have been at crisis point and there is no support, nor did we meet criteria for SEND social care.

“You feel like there is no one listening and no one wanting to help and support. You begin to question your ability as a parent and whether there is something you could have done better or fought harder for. If it wasn’t for other families being in the same situation and the chats with friends who ‘get it’, I don’t know where I would be right now.”

The mum-of-two agrees plans for early help and specialist hubs attached to mainstream schools could work for children who may struggle in the future, but not for those already facing difficulty.

She added: “It’s a cost-cutting exercise. This isn’t about using the term ‘inclusion’ to integrate kids into mainstream, this is about managing the needs of those that they have already let down and for those children who mainstream will never be an option.

“If the local authority ploughs ahead and refuses to budge on their decision to place my son in a mainstream resource provision, and remove his alternative provision where he is flourishing, then he will almost certainly be left unable to attend due to high anxiety. It will damage what progress we have made in the last 12 months and almost certainly destroy any chance he has of accessing an education.

“I will end up forced again into home educating him which means I cannot work and will continue to severely impact us both mentally and financially. He will end up isolated again, where now he is just starting to mix with other children at his alternative provision.”

A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said the council would not comment on individual cases, but the programme aimed to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND, take decisions in a clear, fair and transparent way and ensure systems were sustainable so the authority could work within its allocated funding.


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