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(UK) Somerset: 2 yr wait for special school place; 170 more places/$32M for special school

July 28, 2021, Chard and Ilminster News: Mum fights to send Ilminster primary son to SEND school SW England

A MUM is fighting for her son to attend a special educational needs (SEN) school after his attendance at a mainstream primary was just 11 per cent. Jo Rose was told her son, Thomas, could attend a special school when he was ready, but she tried to enrol him two years ago - and is still trying. Thomas attended Hinton St George Primary School, but soon after was diagnosed with a variety of special educational needs, including severe autism, anxiety, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), severe speech and language delay and others. “He is seven years old, but mentally two years old,” said Jo. “He can barely talk, he cannot join in with the curriculum, he doesn’t wear school uniform and socialising is really difficult.”… Jo contacted Marcus Fysh, MP for Yeovil, to ask for help. He said he can confirm he is in touch with the family and is trying to get the right support for Thomas. “I raised the issue with the Prime Minister some time ago but I think the situation for many families was worse than the Government realised. "In many cases children were being allocated school places and other provision by people they have never met. “There has been some positive news with funding for six new schools in the South West, providing 500 places including for children with SEN, announced last year and in the last few days the Government has published its national strategy for autistic children, young people and adults. “However, it still remains the case that too many parents of children who need extra help feel like they have to battle every inch of the way and changing that must be a top priority. “Having seen this case and others I have written to the Prime Minister again to urgently request that funding be accelerated and giving children with SEN the right support be made a national priority.”… “Thomas will not ever be able to live an independent life. We will not allow him to be swept along in the system due to SCC budgets. “He deserves a safe, full-time and personalised education. “He will never be able to write an essay and he requires life skills, such as being able to get dressed. “We know there are thousands of children in the same situation and it is really stressful. “I can’t believe how much of a battle it is to get a disabled child into the right school – there’s a lot who are being forced into a mainstream schools and parents are being forced to pull them out and home educate them. We’re not prepared for him to just be neglected at school.” SCC has said they try to meet every child’s ‘individual needs in the most appropriate way and setting’. “The number of children and young people with SEND continues to grow in Somerset and we are heavily investing in SEND across the county to give our children the best educational outcomes,” a spokesperson for SCC added. “Over the last year we have increased the number of places in special schools by 80 and invested heavily in school buildings, including the recent Fiveways and Fairmead Special Schools in Yeovil and The Holway Centre in Taunton. “By September, the number of places created will rise to 170 thanks to the investment in Fairmead and Fiveways. “We recently announced that we spent £23m [$32M U.S.] to create a new special school – Polden Bower School in Bridgwater – and work has started on a £1.87m [$2.6M] project to create a new hydrotherapy pool at Selworthy School in Taunton. “We’re also increasing SEND funding to mainstream schools, ensuring children can have their needs met in these schools.”


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