Disabled children, families and supporters plan to take to the streets of Brighton to protest about a crisis in provision of proper schooling and care.
The demo, on Thursday (30 May) is due to take place as campaigners deliver a petition to the Prime Minister in Downing Street, London, and hold a rally in nearby Parliament Square.
In Brighton the protesters are due to meet at The Level at 11am with a range of activities planned to keep children amused and entertained – and with good weather forecast.
These include music, a bouncy castle, face painting, a sensory area and games – with refreshments also available, the organisers said.
As well as the protests in Brighton and London, more than two dozen similar protests are planned around the country, pushing for proper funding for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
The action is being supported by the likes of the Disabled Children’s Partnership, the National Deaf Children’s Society and the National Education Union.
The organisers said: “In 2014, a new law, the Children and Families Act (CFA), gave children with SEND the right to what was intended to be a holistic Educational, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) from birth up to the age of 25.
“However, since 2010, spending on high needs in education has failed to keep pace with demand.
“In addition, cuts to school and college funding have led to vital teaching assistant support being cut, while many children’s centres, which provide essential support for disadvantaged and disabled children, are also being closed, again through a lack of funding.
“As a result, more disabled children are out of school or being illegally excluded or ‘off-rolled’ and more families are having to fight to get the right provision, something the SEND reforms were intended to end.
“Hard-pressed parents, already coping with children who have complex needs, and often with low incomes because of caring duties, want to highlight the damage being caused to disabled children.
“Their access to appropriate – or sometimes any – education, social care or health provision is being curtailed by councils and health bodies cutting key services and failing to comply with their legal obligations.”
Nadia Turki, co-founder of SEND National Crisis, said: “We can no longer remain silent when our children are suffering for want of adequate government funding.
“We are demanding a necessary change to the framework to ensure workable regulatory controls and to ensure SEND funding is ring-fenced to ensure delivery precisely where it is most needed.”
Poppy Rose, co-founder of SEND National Crisis, said: “The government said austerity was over but families say the lack of funding for support is having a detrimental effect on the mental health, life chances and outcomes of disabled children and young people.
“While the reforms extended statutory support to age 25, young people have consistently found it impossible to secure suitable education or training.
“It is an intolerable situation that means access to rights, equality, inclusion and the prospect of a bright future are being wrongfully denied to many thousands of disabled children.
“This is not just a national crisis. It is a national scandal.”
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