Calling Notice: Rally on College Green, Bristol, Thursday 30th May 1pm-3pm all welcome
Parents, children and supporters are coming together in central Bristol, as part of a coordinated day of action by SEND National Crisis across the country, to highlight the underfunding and exclusion from education of so many children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Dozens of demonstrations are being planned across the country by SEND National Crisis who are also handing in a petition of over 12,000 signatures. This will be followed by rallies in Parliament Square and across the country including Bristol. 1000s of parents, children and teachers are expected to be involved as part of the coordinated action.
The Bristol and South Gloucestershire Send National Crisis demonstration is being organised by campaigners from SEND National Crisis supported by volunteers from Bristol Independent Send Crisis (BISC) – the same group that won the judicial review against Bristol City Council stopping over £5 million of cuts to Special Educational Needs. It also being supported by South Glos and Bristol National Education Union (NEU)
Tara Northen, a parent and SEND National Crisis South Gloucestershire co-ordinator said:
“South Gloucestershire is the lowest funded Education Authority and this has led to the loss of teaching assistants, cuts to SEND spending and far too many SEND children not receiving the support they need to access education. The whole area around SEND is now at crisis level and we need schools, councils and most importantly national government to act.”
Kerry Bailes, a parent and SEND National Crisis Bristol co-ordinator said:
“As a parent fighting for the best future for my child, fighting against a system that chooses to put barriers in my way, I know the toll this has on parents and our children. The failure to address their needs, the failure to ensure they have an inclusive education, the failure to even get them into a school. I am turning my heartbreak into action, my frustration into deeds and we will not stop, we will not be silenced, and we will secure a full and inclusive education for our children.”
Sally Kent, a parent and BISC representative said:
“Last year as parents we stopped horrendous cuts being made to the education and support to our most vulnerable children here in Bristol. That was just the first step in our campaign to ensure that all children receive the education they are entitled to under law and that we would expect to be provided within a country like ours. The system, and the politicians that lead that system, will hear our voices and we will ensure that our children’s education is provided.”
Tara and Sally confronted Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds on Thursday during a school visit in South Gloucestershire raising the issue of funding and support for children with SEND.
The Bristol rally will be a family friendly affair combining a picnic, games and speeches about the the SEND National Crisis objectives, the need to improve funding, improve outcomes for children with SEND and ensure councils work with parents rather than against them.
11 speakers have been organised from parents, campaign groups, unions and political parties. The event will bring people together from across the political spectrum to demand change for the sake of the next generation.
Notes and Statistics:
Nationally the funding gap for SEND last year was £287m but projected to reach £1.6bn in the next 2 years (Source: ISOS Partnership “have we reached a ‘tipping point’? Trends in spending for children and young people with SEND in England”, December 2018). In South Glos the audit office identified that there was a £12.5m deficit in High Needs funding.
Half of all local authorities have failed their Ofsted/CQC inspection (Ofsted website, 17th May 2019) – locally North Somerset and South Gloucestershire have failed, Bath & North East Somerset passed, and Bristol is due to be inspected soon.
Pupils with SEND are six times more likely to be excluded from school than those children without. Only 6% of people with learning disabilities are in paid employment. 1190 exclusions in South Glos in 2017 involved children with SEND and only 1% of excluded pupils get five good GCSEs. Bristol was recently named in a Government report as one of ten authorities with very high exclusion rates.
The application around Education and Health Care Plans (legal documents that replaced statements) is in crisis. In Bristol the council has lost nearly 90% of appeals made against their decisions to assess. Local Authorities must complete assessments and issue plans within weeks but both South Glos and Bristol are now taking over 40 weeks for many plans contrary to legal requirements.