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Parents launch campaign to block 'savage cuts' to support for disabled pupils in Hackney

11/12/2017

Families of disabled children in Hackney have launched a campaign to challenge council proposals to cut funding for children with special needs and disabilities (SEND) in mainstream schools from April 2018.

The group says the proposals will see support funding cut by up to 90% and pupils with high needs denied access to statutory support provided by Education Health and Care Plans.

Parent campaign group Hackney Special Education Crisis is urging residents to reject the proposals by responding to the Hackney Council's consultation on special educational needs funding arrangements.

They are asking residents to respond to the consultation before 21 December by ticking #stronglydisagree against the first two consultation questions.

A campaign spokeswoman told Healthwatch Hackney: 'These proposals are really bad news for our children but also for schools and non-disabled pupils. Many of our children rely on adequate support to be able to learn alongside their non-disabled peers.'

Parents of disabled children in Hackney say they are unhappy with the consultation which they say 'hides the true scale of the cuts'.

'The consultation is misleading. It implies the new funding model will provide 'additional funds' for children with special needs but these changes in fact add up to a savage cut for some of the most vulnerable pupils,' she said.

'The model is also unlawful as they seek to deny pupils with high needs access to Education Health and Care Plans.

'We are calling on the council to ditch their plans and publicly commit to protecting funding for disabled and vulnerable children in Hackney,' she added.

A council spokeperson told the Hackney Gazette that the proposals will 'make SEND funding more sustainable' by encouraging different support options.

The council told the paper there had been freeze in government funding for SEND children since 2011 and this has led to a £6 million shortfall in Hackney, which is currently being supplemented from other areas of spending.

Funding for pupils with high needs in Hackney will be cut 5% across the board from April 2018, regardless of the outcome of the current consultation. Further funding cuts loom for the borough's special schools while the council's service for pre-school children with special needs was cut by 48% this term.

Hackney's designated parent-carer forum HiP wrote to Council's cabinet lead for children and young people Cllr Anntoinette Bramble in November urging the council to protect funding for disabled and vulnerable pupils.

 

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