Fighting for an education: Parents claim Suffolk SEND support in crisis

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Parents in Suffolk have spoken of their frustrating and exhausting battles to get their children into special schools.

Campaigners claim the county's education provision for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is in crisis.

Darrell Brown's son Lewis, 13, has autism and sensory processing disorder. He has been without a school place since December.

His parents, from Palgrave near Diss, have spent months fighting to get him a place at a local special school."It's heartbreaking and stressful," said Darrell. "It's caused me to have ill health.

"To see Lewis distressed for something the council should be putting in place, which it's their statutory duty to do, it's really affected all of us."

Steven Wright is a member of the 'Campaign for Change', which calls for better SEND provision in Suffolk and improved communication with families.

SEND provision is an issue across the region - and indeed the country.

Last week, parents in Bedfordshire protested by leaving children's shoes outside the council offices.

Since 2014, the number or children with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs) has doubled. In Suffolk, the county council says 35 such pupils are currently out of school.

The council has allocated £45 million to fund more than 800 new places.

An independent review into how the council communicates with families is expected to be published soon.

Cllr Rachel Hood, Cabinet Member for Education, said: "We are building new schools, including a special new school in Bungay, two schools in Bury St Edmunds and one in Ipswich.

"So we are doing a huge amount and we take it very seriously and we are determined to provide an appropriate education for all our children."

Ryan has been excluded from three mainstream schools. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Ryan, 10, has autism and behavioural disorders.

In the last five years, he has been excluded from three mainstream schools and in and out of four pupil referral units.

His mum Charlene Pieri, from Wickham Market, said he has never completed a full year of primary school.

"I break down," she said. "I look at him and I think why can't you just give my child - like other children - that school place that they deserve?"