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(UK) NI: Parents group slams SPED services as 'meltdown'

Nov 7, 2023, Belfast Live: Parents of SEN children to highlight 'meltdown' in services at Westminster
A delegation from SEN Reform NI will give evidence at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
The parents of children with special educational needs will highlight how the services "have fallen into meltdown" at a hearing in Westminster this week.

A delegation from SEN Reform NI will be speaking at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday, November 8, where they aim to highlight the issues impacting children with additional needs with regards to their education, saying they are being discriminated against.

The group was formed in June 2023 by a group of parents of children with SEN who are trying to get more support and services for their children, particularly with regards to their educational rights.

Many of the parents had difficulty securing their children a place in school or nursery this year and while some have now been given a place, others still do not know what the future holds for their children.

Speaking to Belfast Live, Emma Morgan from SEN Reform NI, said that they hope to highlight three key areas to the committee and show how recent budget cuts will further exacerbate problems for families and degrade services rather than enabling them to make necessary improvements.

These are the 'discrimination faced by SEN children when trying to access education, a lack of early intervention support for children and their families and how recommendations in reports on SEN services have been ignored and not implemented'.

Emma said: "When we started SEN Reform NI a few months ago we were just a group of parents trying to fight for the rights of our children and the education they deserve and never thought that we would end up speaking at Westminster, but it seems that it is the only option that we have left without a government in Stormont.

"SEN Services, particularly in education, are in meltdown and we fear this will only get worse due to the recent budget.

"It seems that it has now become acceptable for children with special needs to be denied their legally mandated right to an education and those who have managed to secure school places during the summer only did so after months of fighting.

"Children are being discriminated against from nursery to secondary school and urgent action is needed to address this and we fear that nothing has been done to deal with the problems that arose this year.

"Early intervention services are very difficult to access for parents at the moment and further cuts will only make it impossible for families to get the support they need.

"I hope that the committee will understand our serious concerns and also be able to shed some light on why numerous independent reports and recommendations have been ignored for years when they could have been used to improve services and give our children the start in life that they deserve."


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