PARENTS taking the government to court over SEND funding were cheered by a crowd of over 40 as they entered the High Court yesterday morning.
Mary Riddell and Lorraine Heugh were taking the case against Education Secretary Damian Hinds and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, to demand an increase in funding to local authorities for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Mary Riddell, mother of Dakota, 10, told a rally outside the court, ‘We had to wait 18 months for an assessment and have had to fight for every provision.
‘SEND services are chronically underfunded and are failing.
‘We can fight and we can change things for the better.’
Lorraine Heugh, mother of 15-year-old Nico, told the rally, ‘At first we were sad, then we were frustrated and then we got angry.
‘We found a voice, it was time for our children to be heard.’
Gillian Doherty from SEND Action which is backing the case told the rally: ‘The system has collapsed. The funding policy is not sufficient to support special needs.
‘More than 500 people have raised the £14,000 to fund our action.
‘For too long we have battled against a dysfunctional care system.
‘Children kept in isolation booths with a zero-tolerance policy. Tortured in treatment units like prisoners with no release date. This is not just a few children but thousands across the country. Tolerance is a good thing!’
National Education Union leader Kevin Courtney said: ‘There are 8,587 children with special needs not in any form of education, this is absolutely shameful.
‘The government is treating children like commodities and this is worse for vulnerable children. In the race for league tables, children are being off-rolled. This is reprehensible.’
Other speakers addressing the rally included Jo Campion from the National Deaf Children’s Society and Alex Boyce from the Grove Academy in Harrogate, where teachers have taken six days of strike action to defend their pupil referral unit.