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(UK) Maidstone: Parents and Teachers protest lack of SPED services, demand changes

Sept 28, 2023, Kent Online: Parents protest at Maidstone County Hall over lack of SEND provision in schools

SE England

More than a hundred parents and teachers have joined a protest demanding changes to the special education needs provision in schools.

Members of SEND Reform England met outside County Hall in Maidstone today (September 28) to fight against what they say is a lack of provision for their children, including insufficient spaces in special needs schools and a lack of SEND training for teachers and teaching assistants in mainstream schools.

Amber Collins, from Sevenoaks, was at the protest which started at 11am.

Her son is four and has just started primary school, but he is only allowed to attend for two hours a day.

This means she can no longer continue her job as a social media manager….

“There also needs to be better training for health visits to pick up on it earlier.

“I recognised the signs but was told he would grow out of it.”

Chelsey Byron, mum to 13-year-old Layton Ballard and from East Malling, said special needs children are “treated like the runt of the litter”.

Sam, from Folkestone, described how her son was regularly excluded for bad behaviour and swearing – but he was never like it at home.

The mum had to fight to get him a place at a suitable school after mainstream ones claimed they could not meet his needs.

“Every time they told me about his behaviour I would ask why,” she explained.

“What had triggered the behaviour? There is always a reason.”


SEND Reform England founder member Lisa Lloyd, who is mum to two autistic children, is hoping the protest will go some way to increasing awareness of the ongoing issues.

She said: “Forcing SEN children into mainstream schools is affecting those pupils without special needs too. Teachers are overwhelmed and cannot cope with the amount of SEN children in their class which can be as many as 10 in a class of 32.

“The teachers are forced to do more care work than teaching.”

The group is calling for more SEND schools to be built to offer those children the support they need to help them succeed.

The Larkfield mum added: “There needs to be provision in place for our children so they can learn in the environment that is right for them and the mainstream children can learn without being disrupted.”

The group previously held a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London in June which was attended by more than 1,000 people, including many parents of children without special needs as Lisa says the lack of provision is having a wider effect on mainstream schools.

As well as the protest in Maidstone, about 12 others were also due to be held across the country.

Two new special needs schools are due to be built in Swanley and Whitstable but Lisa says more needs to be done.

“It’s a good start,” Lisa said. “But it is nowhere near enough. There needs to be more. “There are thousands of children who need those SEN spaces that don’t have them.”...

More than 100 people are protesting in front of Maidstone County Hall, calling for better special education provision in schools


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