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(UK) Bristol: Mom says no autism services despite $39M for SPED

July 9, 2021, (UK) BristolLive: Bristol mum describes battle to get son with ADHD into school

SW England A Bristol mum claims the city council has 'failed' her autistic son after waiting months to secure a SEND placement. Syndi Sheppard, 38, said she has been battling for several months to secure specialist care for her 13-year-old son who has severe learning difficulties…. The mother claims the local authority said it would put a bespoke educational package for her son however, it would be for children who were disengaged in secondary school. After refusing this, she was informed that she would need to find a private tutor herself and go through the process of direct payments. A spokesperson from Bristol City Council said: "Our plan for increasing short term placements has been hard hit by COVID-19 and it is taking longer to open new provision, so we are putting in place an improved system of support for children and young people who have been identified as being in need of a specialist placement…. "Last year Cabinet approved the SEND Sufficiency and Capital programme which will invest over £28m [$39M U.S.] in Bristol’s special schools, and result in major improvements to current special schools, as well as significantly increasing the number of specialist places available for students with SEND."… She said: “My son wouldn’t have any peers with his own mental age to communicate with - he would just be stuck at home and it's up to the local authority to provide him with a tutor.” After being told that nothing more could be done by the local authority, her son was eventually accepted at a special provision at New Fosseway School in South Bristol in March and he would begin his transition from June until September. When she asked the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator at the school why her son could not be taken on sooner, she was told it was because they were oversubscribed and the pandemic. However, they explained that with council funding they could take her son on next year…. Ms Sheppard said since moving from Leicester last November she had hoped to start her job which was kept open for her until February. However, after finding out on Monday (June 7) that her son is only allowed to have three one-hour sessions until September at New Fosseway School, she is left wondering if she will ever return to work again. …

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