Stevenage protest march over lack of special educational needs support for Hertfordshire children
PUBLISHED: 08:30 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:36 22 May 2019
Parents will march in protest of inadequate support for children with special educational needs in Hertfordshire next Thursday.
Organised by action group SEND National Crisis, the march from Stevenage's Fairlands Valley Showground to Hertfordshire County Council's offices on Six Hills Way will be one of over 20 marches across the country.
A spokesman for SEND National Crisis said: "Hertfordshire County Council's children's services are failing vulnerable families. They should be a lifeline, but families are in crisis due to lack of support.
"We have organised a march for parents to have the opportunity of voicing their views that are seldom acknowledged."
The group has accused HCC of "not being organised efficiently for many years", with charities often left to support families.
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"Yet, faced with crippling funding cuts, cash-strapped councils are struggling to keep open early help services and are being forced to spend more of their shrinking budgets on crisis services, which means thousands of vulnerable children and families are left to fend for themselves as problems spiral out of control," said the SEND National Crisis spokesman.
"We need central government to put more money into schools, which have suffered years of underfunding and are in crisis.
A county council spokesman said: "We understand the concerns about the increasing pressures on SEND budgets.
"In Hertfordshire we have experienced a dramatic increase in demand for services for children and young people with special educational needs. By the end of 2023 we are forecasting that the number of children and young people with SEND or requiring an Education Health and Care Plan will grow by 36 per cent - an additional 2,198 children.
"We are planning ahead to ensure we deliver services faster and more effectively, and over the next two years we will be investing about £3 million to transform the SEND offer." HCC says it will focus on maximising the benefits of digital technology, providing clearer pathways to effective help, and preparing for adulthood by improving access to independent living, employment and training.
Those taking part in the march, email firstname.lastname@example.org and meet in the showground car park from 12.15pm, with the march at 1pm.