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(UK) Parents protest over lack of help for SPED students; 20,000 kids educated out-of-area

May 29, 2019, Portsmouth News: Parents protest over special needs education which sees their children educated miles from home https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/education/parents-protest-over-special-needs-education-which-sees-their-children-educated-miles-from-home-1-8945295 AS PARENTS and teachers across the country protest over funding cuts to special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision, one parent has revealed her frustration in finding suitable education for her autistic son…. Speaking to The Observer newspaper, she said: ‘The other pupils didn’t understand him. He had nothing in common with them because he didn’t walk to school, he didn’t go out to the park, he didn’t do anything outside of the home without an adult. They were very different children and it was entirely the wrong environment. He has Tourette’s so he makes noises sometimes. The other children would pick up on it and bully him.’ After 18 months of struggle Lisa claims Oliver suffered a breakdown and left the school. After a tribunal hearing he was eventually sent to Grateley House boarding school, 50 miles away near Andover, where Lisa feels Oliver’s needs can be met…. Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showing that nationally almost 20,000 children with special educational needs are attending schools outside their council area. This constitutes a rise of nearly 18 per cent in two years. For National Education Union vice president and Portsmouth teacher, Amanda Martin, the situation is symptomatic of a chronic lack of funding for local authorities to cater for the needs of SEND pupils. The NEU recently revealed that special needs provision has lost out on £1.2bn in real terms since 2015. Ms Martin said: ‘I know of a number of pupils across the city who have been assessed and met the criteria for special school placements but are unable to access a place because there is simply no space at the city’s special schools. Pupils who remain in mainstream often need one to one support. In such cases the school has to pay the first £6000 with the same amount provided by the government but this doesn’t cover the cost of employing a teaching assistant. Schools end up having to take money out of budgets which are allocated for other areas.’ … As reported in The News, September saw 100 Hampshire headteachers join 2000 of their colleagues in marching on Parliament to demand increased funding for schools. One of their key demands was ‘an immediate £400 million cash injection to support the beleaguered SEND sector’.