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(UK) Northants: Council fails SPED kids; 'we are not there yet'

Mar 25, 2024, BBC News: Names put on display in SEND 'crisis' protest

 E. Midlands


A group protested outside a council by displaying names of children in "crisis" due to failings in special needs education.

They spoke at the West Northamptonshire Council meeting about the treatment of special educational needs and disability (SEND) children.

West Northants SEND Action Group said a "dramatic culture shift" was needed to put young people first.

The council said it had "not delivered the services it should" but added it was working to address this, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Lauren Bunting spoke at the beginning of the full West Northamptonshire Council meeting

Lauren Bunting, the co-founder of the group, told the council meeting: "Parents and children [are] in crisis, children out of education for years at a time and pleas for help ignored, or worse, met with safeguarding allegations, parent blame or fines for not attending school.
"We have a SEND strategy that contains no real strategy and isn't being followed anyway.
"That's [the council] choosing to leave a child at home or in an unsuitable school for a year, deeming them undeserving of education."

'All we can to improve'

Fiona Baker, the cabinet member for children, families, skills and education at authority, said there was "a significant shortfall of provision for SEND places across West Northants and overdue education, health and care needs assessments".

Ms Baker said the council has plans to create 600 more places for children and young people with SEND by autumn 2025 and was aiming to clear a backlog in education, health and care plans.

"We know we are not there yet, but we are doing all we can to improve this," she added.

Ofsted has completed a two-week inspection of the council's SEND services and the result is due to be published later this spring.

The council said it will use the findings to continue to improve its services.

The group put whiteboards with the first names of children outside the council meeing


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