PARENTS from Dudley have joined in a national protest calling for greater provision and support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

SEND Support Dudley, a group made up of parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities, joined in the national day of protest last week, with the Dudley parents taking to Victoria Square in Birmingham.

The protest called on national government to reverse funding cuts to SEND provision, but the Dudley parents want to see the local authority do more to provide support for their children.

Parents have voiced their concerns that lack of provision has left children without support and in some cases without a school place.

Jenny, a parent from Dudley with three children with special educational needs, slammed her experience of trying to get provision for her children as ‘horrendous’.

She said: “Even getting the most basic support for them has been a battle. I have had to launch seven appeals against the council over the last three years."

She said she has ‘fought’ for the local authority to recognise her children have special educational needs and for them to have appropriate placements in schools.

She explained how parents of SEND children face a ‘never ending battle’ as provision is reviewed every 12 months, with families having to appeal to keep any support they already have.

Another parent, who does not wish to be named, has spent £15,000 on legal fees to fight for SEND provision for her son.

She said: “The protest was against government cuts, but locally they are not making good use of the budget and that funding is not being ring fenced properly within schools. Money is not being used where it should be.”

The 150-people strong group is calling for Dudley Council to spend SEND funding more wisely, to stop taking parents to tribunals and to follow the SEND Code of Practice, which outlines the duties of local authorities, health bodies, schools and colleges provide for those with special educational needs from birth to 25-years-old.

Jenny said: “They [the local authority] make up their own problems and put blocks in the way, they make their own criteria.

“They try and fool a lot of parents and they are not being held accountable.”

Dee, the mother of a seven-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis and a multiple educational needs, has been fighting to gain a place in a special school.

After attending a mainstream primary school, he was assessed to be unable to access mainstream education in October 2018 and has not attended school since as a place in a special school has not been found.

Dee said: "Every professional that has worked with my child has said your child needs to be in a special school.

"We should not be having to fight for a school place. We are treated like it's our fault."

Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We are determined to work closely with parents, carers and stakeholders to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people with SEND.

“Last month we welcomed the Joint Area SEND Inspection Team. They spent a week meeting with parents, carers and service users, as well as staff and a wide range of partners, including commissioned services and educational settings.

“The report from Ofsted and CQC will be published in the summer. While we await their detailed findings, we would like to assure parents that we are listening to their needs and will work with them so all our children will have the means and support to reach their potential.”