'My children aren't sleeping or eating' - Parents hit out over lack of special needs school places

Families of children with special needs in Leicestershire are protesting over a lack of suitable school places.

Parents gathered outside the County Council hall in Glenfield, earlier today to call for urgent improvements after they say they have been "badly let down" by the council.

There are currently over 6,000 children with Education, Care and Health Plans which determine they are in need of additional support, according to Leicester County Council.

Over 40 children are going through the process of securing a named placement - with at least half of them (21) are still waiting for a suitable placement to be identified.

One mother, Emily Howden speaking to ITV Central said more urgently needs to be done: "People don't see what we have to live with day in, day out.

"They can all go home at the end of the day to their nice houses and their 2.4 children and their cockapoos.

"And we're living it 24/7 - children not sleeping, children not eating, children harming themselves, because their needs are unmet. And it's not fair."

Protestors gathered outside Leicestershire County Council this morning. Credit: ITV Central News

Jane Moore, Leicestershire County Council’s director of children and family services, said they are "committed" to tackling the issue: "We appreciate this is a stressful time and the continued patience of parents, carers and the children and young people themselves is very much appreciated.

"Since 2018, we’ve invested more than £30m to create more than 560 specialist places in Leicestershire schools.

"Like other councils, public services in Leicestershire are under increasing financial pressure as we strive to ensure that children and young people with SEND can access the right support in the right place at the right time.

She goes on to describe the county council as facing a "perfect storm of challenges".

It includes rapidly-growing numbers of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) in the county, which is "growing 40 per cent faster than the national average" as well as a "steep rise in demand" for specialist school places.