Stop cuts to vital special needs support in Waltham Forest!

by Claire Bithell

Stop cuts to vital special needs support in Waltham Forest!

by Claire Bithell
Claire Bithell
Case Owner
I am a parent of an autistic child and a resident of Waltham Forest. I am one of a group of parents who founded Waltham Forest SEND Crisis.
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Claire Bithell
Case Owner
I am a parent of an autistic child and a resident of Waltham Forest. I am one of a group of parents who founded Waltham Forest SEND Crisis.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

The case

Waltham Forest Council is proposing severe cuts to funding for children with special educational needs and disability in the borough. The cuts have caused huge alarm to parents, teachers and professionals, and will have long-term, detrimental effects on all children in schools across the borough if they are allowed to proceed. Some children will see their top-up funding cut by over 40%, resulting in them losing their teaching assistant and other support necessary for their education, while Special Schools in the borough will receive an annual 1.5% cut to their funding. The proposals are being taken forward to a vote in October 2019 and, if approved, will come into force in April 2020. Some schools in the borough are already reducing support as they anticipate these changes for the next school year.

What is SEND?

A young person has special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. This can include children with sight or hearing problems, Down's syndrome, learning difficulties, autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, anxiety, depression and those children with a physical need that requires additional equipment and support. The extra support children with SEND need is vital for them to access an education. 

Who are we?

Waltham Forest SEND Crisis was formed in February 2018 to protest against serious problems with school transport, support and treatment for children with special educational needs and disability in the borough. We are a group of parents/carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), professionals and residents who have come together to oppose cuts to special needs funding, which will have a negative impact on the education of all children in Waltham Forest.

What are we trying to achieve?

We want to put a stop to these cuts, as well as send a clear message to Waltham Forest and other councils making similar cuts that this is not acceptable.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities want to learn and achieve at school, but to do this they often need extra support. When SEND funding is reduced, schools have to choose what provision to cut. Should this be:

• the speech and language therapy that develops communication?

• the specialist teacher who helps children to learn?

• the teaching assistant who supports them in the classroom?

• the equipment that enables them to see or hear?

It is an impossible choice for schools to make. Whatever they cut will have a negative impact, not just on disabled children but on all pupils; increasing workloads for teachers and support staff while creating a less inclusive environment. The proposed changes will disproportionately impact schools that are inclusive and welcome all children. Furthermore, the cuts to services are driving those who can afford it to pay for private therapy and support, leaving other children in the community to struggle -  effectively creating a two-tier system. We want to ensure schools have the support and funding they need, so that all children can thrive.

How much are we raising and why?

We need to raise £3,000 for initial legal advice before applying for permission to issue a Judicial Review, should we be advised that there are grounds to do so. If the Council retract these proposals for cuts or significantly delay the time-frame, the money will be used instead to investigate other problems surrounding support to children with special needs and disability in the borough.

What's the next step?

If the initial advice determines that a Judicial Review is the way forward, we can then apply for legal aid for our children. We may need further funds at this stage for the investigation and to obtain advice from Counsel, and have been advised that this could cost an additional £2,000.

If you would like to find out more about the impact of the cuts on the education of children and young people in Waltham Forest please follow us at @SENDCrisisWF on Twitter and join Waltham Forest SEND Crisis on Facebook.

Any level of support is appreciated. From all the families and children in our community, thank you so much!


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