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Our education under attack
'They refuse to help kids who need extra support'
Angry parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) met in New Cross, south London recently to start forming a campaign group. They all considered that their children's SEN difficulties were not being recognised or supported. Many were furious at schools and local education authorities (LEAs) for refusing to give their children 'statements of special needs'.
Parents see this as part of wider education cuts. As the meeting coordinator Nicky said, they had all been fighting their own little wars but now need a united movement. Parents felt they needed a stronger voice in schools and LEAs as staff seemed under pressure to refuse or delay statements to children.
Nicky spoke to the Socialist.
"I have two children with special needs; including profound hearing loss, severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia. It takes such persistence to get something that should be an automatic right. To get my child the statement he needs, I had to get a private report done. This is disgusting in what's supposed to be a free education system. Can parents afford that?
The kids need this support. The 'playing field' is not flat at the best of times but for a kid with any kind of special need, it's slanted beyond belief. Parents are being misled about what's happening, on how their kids are performing at school and what could be done to help that child. And it's being led from central government who are cutting funding to LEAs.
By the time you get any help, you've turned into a rabid animal with saliva dripping down your chin! I applied for my son's statement in May last year and got a proposal for a statement this May that has no information in it.
LEAs are completely underfunded. But why aren't they, and the politicians who run them, screaming at central government about this and demanding funding? It's the drip-down effect and everyone's playing the same game, refusing to help kids who need extra support.
The LEAs are making the children pay for an underfunded system. If a child needs help, it is needed now not 12 months down the line when there are a whole lot of different problems happening.
Our group of parents are fed up with the whole system and won't stop fighting to put pressure on the schools and on the LEAs. We're not asking for our kids to have anything above what they should be having as their legal entitlement.
It's the child that's paying that price and you only really get one stab at education. If you don't get that right, that kid could end up as a lost cause ten years on. We mean to keep fighting for our kids."
In The Socialist 23 May 2012:
Fighting the cuts
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