As many will know already, tomorrow there will be a series of organised marches around the country, designed to peacefully protest about the current SEND national crisis.
Thursday 30th of May has been marked on the calendar for many individuals, families and professionals affected by the continuous cuts and lack of resources available to support children, young people and adults who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Most are already set to march and if you feel that you would like to join – then here is a last minute list of all of the marches for the designated areas:
There are also many speakers lined up to speak at these marches, which I’m sure will draw some attention to the cause – media attention seems to be the only method families have in order to get their voices heard. I have no doubt that those individuals will help to voice the opinions of many and will not only be motivational but also inspiring to listen to.
I was also due to speak at our local march in Hertfordshire (for anyone planning to join here is a quick link to their Facebook page), but I hadn’t realised the date fell in the half term holidays which made it difficult to attend.
It pains me not to take part in this day, but I will have to do my best to show my support on social media and I hope that fellow readers will show their allegiance by sharing as many posts or tweets online to help make some positive action. I will be certainly rallying on those speakers too and wish them all the best of luck.
So why do we need to march? Are things really that bad?
There are so many reasons why this march is taking place and they will all be personal to each and every family. I can only give you my reasons why I would like to be involved and I hope that they may resonate, as well as speak for many other families too.
I wanted to march because my daughter has never been able to access an education and she is already eight years old.
So many of her fundamental and formulating years have been spent being excluded, socially isolated, blamed and misunderstood. What message has that really sent to her infantile, growing brain?
Instead of having a family around her, all stood together and proud, able to enjoy each and every one of her individual milestones, they have been pushed to their limits, trying to access services for the right help, whilst shouting from the rooftops about the corruption they meet along the way.
Every single service that I have tried to ask for support, the response I am given is to go on a parenting course to learn how to deal with her behaviour or to attend a workshop. It’s often taken years to receive an appointment, after several complaints that have been lodged to managers, to finally be discharged as there is no actual input they can give. Like so many others, we have been pushed from pillar to post, without anyone able to give us the support we actually need.
Years that I have spent trying to get someone to assess my daughter’s speech and communication difficulties for example, a pivotal part to the challenges she faces, to arrive to the appointment and be told that they were aware mother was ‘anxious’ and just wanted a SALT report for her EHCP.
Again, discharged with a few strategies which involved correcting her on her vocal disparities; completely incompatible for a child who is deeply self-conscious about the speech difficulties she has. Just another service that required a fight, but one I didn’t have the ability to do at the time; my judgements about her struggles were disregarded and my confidence in parenting was shattered once again.
I want to march to stand up for the fact that good practices in the SEND world are extremely patchy; some professionals you come in to contact are passionate, driven and knowledgeable in their field – they propel you further and deserve your trust.
Then there are others who lack honesty and do not have the basic training that is needed to understand and support children, young people and adults with SEND. The latter have a detrimental and often devastating impact on vulnerable families, but sadly these influencers are not always monitored either.
There are often no punishments when the SEND Code of Practice (published by the Department for Education DfE) or The Children and Families Act (2014) are broken by schools, health providers and local authorities.
It requires parents to jump through loopholes and be successful at court to highlight the rules have been breached – only the lucky few will be able to reach this stage. But what are the ramifications? These services continue their poor practices to other families instead – there are no consequences and the cycle just repeats.
You see, as parents we are often blamed, fined or have our children put on safeguarding plans and sometimes even removed from us when we are felt to be breaking the rules. We are scared to put a foot wrong, always fearful that someone will come along, with a lack of understanding about our children’s challenges, knowing that the consequences for us could be life changing.
If there were suitable repercussions on schools then I wouldn’t have been lied to that my daughter couldn’t be in school, saying there were no resources and that I needed a diagnosis so she could get some support. I wouldn’t have been pushed into having my own mum as a chaperone in school so my daughter could be on the premises safely.
My daughter wouldn’t have had to continually been made to fail, or to have to hit a mental health crisis, before the team around us would listen that parenting wasn’t the root cause to her problem and allow us to access the support we desperately needed.
I want to march because of the trauma she has accumulated from being misunderstood and poorly supported; no longer are we just looking at the needs incurred from her disability but the EXTRA difficulties and experiences that have made her issues even more complex.
If there was culmination on the local authority for abandoning our family (a child who is deemed to be in severe need and has been flagged as needing urgent support), if they were held accountable for the neglect and safeguarding issues that they are breaching, then it certainly would stop. Not just for our family, but for others too. Would they continue if they thought they would be prosecuted for their wrongdoings?
Instead, they know that they can lie, procrastinate and avoid as the only tactic they know works best to avoid the costs of paying for an alternative provision.
The tipping point of children who just can’t fit into the system has reached a limit that they can’t manage; because of the cuts, because of the crisis our local authority are definitely in, they are failing families like ours and are successfully ripping families apart.
The parents and the professionals are left, fighting one other, because the system is flawed and we have no other route possible to access an education for our children. The latter are like gate keepers with their only goal being to bat away the claims for extra support. Some will inevitably get through the net to reach the goal, but most are blocked, meaning that the resources are not distributed fairly for all of the children who need it.
The education system is supposed to be inclusive for everyone but it is not designed to work for many. So we need to reinvent the wheel, or else most SEND families need extra support for their children to access school; something we are being told we can’t have. So either the funding needs to go to ALL of the children who need it, or else alter the education system so that EVERY child can actually access it.
So, most importantly, my greatest reason to march would be for those families who can’t access the support (for whatever reason that might be), but whose children, young people and adults are being failed as a consequence.
For those parents who feel like they are close to breaking and do not have the capacity to fight every single uphill battle. Those who might not have the family support that is desperate for their survival. To those, who may have educational needs themselves and find it impossible to get past all of the obstacles that are thrown in their way.
And, lastly to those, who have simply lost hope, or have had their children removed, or even sectioned as their mental health has failed, then this march is for you. To know, that as a group of SEND families, we will be sticking together, using the resources we have and the knowledge we have acquired, to highlight the wrongdoings that are going on.
We will march, we will speak and we will share our experiences.
Together, we are one. And that one is certainly strong.
To join in further and to find information – here is also a quick link to the SEND NationalCrisis March page via Facebook.
Also, you can save this picture below, like many others have done already, to use it as a profile picture on your social media accounts so that the message of support is being conveyed nationally.