SEND: Families protest across England over lack of provision and 'failings'

The protests were held in cities across England, including in Norwich and St Albans.

Parents of children with special educational needs have protested across the country over a lack of provision and "failures" to reform the system.

On Friday, protests were held in cities across England, including Norwich, St Albans, Birmingham, Brighton, Newcastle, Oxford and Liverpool.

The SEND Reform England group, which is made up of parents of SEND children, say they have "lost faith" in the government and claim it views children as a "drain on society".

Recent research by ITV News Anglia showed hundreds of SEND children are being denied a school place because of a lack of appropriate provision.

Thousands more vulnerable children are being home-schooled - either by choice or because it is the only option left for parents battling against the SEND system.

In response to the protests, the government said its investment in the high needs budget had risen by over 60% since 2019-20 to £10.5 billion, alongside investment of £2.6 billion in high needs capital and doubling the number of special free school places to 19,000 once those in the pipeline are completed.

The SEND protest in Norwich Credit: ITV Anglia

At the Norwich protest, dozens of families gathered for the protest, including one of the organisers 26-year-old Chloe Lovelace, on her birthday.

Instead of celebrating she was fighting to get an education for her son Noah Allen who is four and autistic.

He was due to start primary school in September but the place was withdrawn.

"He was told by a member of staff that he wouldn't fit in the school and he wouldn't be accepted or make friends because of his autism," she said.

"It broke my heart because he's only 4 and he doesn't deserve that. He deserves an education."

Leah Stroud, from Lowestoft, was another one of the protestors, with her son Ezra who is five years old, autistic and not in school.

Ms Stroud, 33, said: "We didn't ask for our children to be born with these difficulties but here we are fighting for something we shouldn't have to fight for.

"It should be there. The funding should be there."

Last month's investigation by ITV News highlighted serious failings, with young people being left behind as councils fight to balance budgets and provide specialist education to those who need it most.

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