Dec 13, 2019, Liverpool Echo: 'Our kids are being failed by the system': calls for reform to special needs education after spike in appeals https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/our-kids-being-failed-system-17402746 The number of parents appealing council decisions on special needs educational support has spiked since 2015, the ECHO has found. Parents who are unable to get the special support approved say they have been force to make drastic choices, such as taking time off work to fight the case and even homeschooling their children. Data obtained via freedom of information requests to every local authority in Merseyside has revealed more parents are appealing Education Health and Care plan (EHC) decisions, with appeals rising sixfold in some places…. Mandy Smith, 45, from Knotty Ash, whose eight-year-old son Marcus was diagnosed with autism in 2017, has been through the EHCP appeals process and believes the current system is "failing" children with special educational needs. … She told the ECHO: "The cuts to special needs education have been dramatic. There is not enough money to support pupils with special educational needs…. She said: "Councils are being set up to fail because there just isn't enough money coming from central government. They're completely stretched. "This is not a local issue. It's a national issue. Children with special needs are being failed unless they have a parent who's vocal…. She said that the lack of support under the current system was "driving SEND children out of mainstream education"…. "Currently, SEND kids are being driven out of mainstream education. I feel like an inconvenience to the system…. In St Helens, 2019 saw more than double the number of EHC appeals than 2015, when there were seven and 16 challenges respectively. St Helens Council also spent £41,846 in external legal costs fighting appeals to special educational needs and disability (SEND) decisions between 2015 and 2018. … Una Summerson, Head of Policy at disability charity Contact, said: “We know from calls to our helpline that increasing numbers of parents with disabled children are applying for EHC plans, as resources to support children with additional needs have been squeezed in mainstream schools….