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(UK) Hove: Autism parents slam education report; 'why doesn’t anybody care?'

June 21, 2023, Brighton and Hove News: Families of autistic children upset by report on Brighton SEND provision

S. England

The families of autistic children said that Ofsted inspectors failed to reflect their concerns about provision for children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) in Brighton and Hove in a report.

Local organisation Mascot, which supports families with autistic children and young people, said that the voluntary sector in the city was “on its knees” trying to cope with demand for support.

Mascot’s research shows 77 per cent of parents were either very dissatisfied or moderately dissatisfied with the health care provided for their autistic child or young person.

After a joint inspection by a team of seven from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in late March, the city’s SEND provision was rated as good in a report published on Wednesday 31 May.

A Brighton mother of two autistic children, Claire, said: “Reading the Ofsted report was a gut-wrenching kick in the teeth.

“Brighton and Hove local authority continues to apply unlawful discriminatory policies that prevent children from accessing critical support when it is most needed.

“Self-harm, OCD, anxiety, violence – these are the complex issues that we have had to navigate over the years with virtually no practical support.

“My 10-year-old autistic daughter has missed years of education already and has been let down repeatedly by the Brighton and Hove SEND department.

“Nobody that can effect change is listening and yet the lack of foresight is astonishing. “”Effective support delivered at the earliest opportunity is the only way to give our children the greatest chance of thriving as independent adults.

“Why is nobody listening? Why doesn’t anybody care?”

Mascot director and founder Sam Bayley said: “In the voluntary sector we are on our knees trying to support and cope with the demand of parents whose children are being let down at every turn by the local authority.

“So we were devastated by this report which fails to listen to our concerns.

“The inspection results from Ofsted have shocked Mascot as our own survey, done at the same time, shows that Brighton and Hove is failing some of its most vulnerable families and children.

“Mascot has been campaigning on these issues for more than a decade but very little has changed.

“We need more suitable school places; we need timely assessments and we urgently need respite and social care for our families with autistic children without learning disabilities.

“We strongly urge Brighton and Hove local authority to look closely at how and why this section of the community is being failed.”

Mascot’s survey of more than 470 members in March showed that 82 per cent of Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs) were taking more than the legal limit of 20 weeks to complete in a way that accurately reflects a child’s needs.

The survey also said that around 57 per cent of parents said that Brighton and Hove’s EHCP process was “traumatic”.

The joint report mentioned several areas of improvement, including the early identification of young people at risk of not being in education, employment or training.

It mentioned a lack of personal assistants, that the quality of EHCPs have not been monitored well enough and that some children and young people were waiting too long to find a specialist school place.

Brighton and Hove City Council and NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board were contacted for comment.

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