An Open Letter
I’m not sure how many of you will have seen the footage from Kent County Council meeting – SEND Sub-committee, where some rather unfortunate and ignorant comments and terminology have been used in regard to EHCPs, neurodivergent individuals and SEND parents. But it has created quite a stir on social media and there are a lot of unhappy SEND parents who are no longer willing to sit back and accept the failings of Local Authorities and reduced funding from the government.
If you haven’t seen the video then (for the moment) it is available to watch online, however, at three and a half hours long it’s not for the faint-hearted. Never fear I have watched on your behalf. I can’t bear to think I might have taken something out of context, so wanted to make sure I watched the whole meeting – I know how to live on a weekend…
Who are the gatekeepers?
‘Who are the gatekeepers, if I’m a parent who ‘THINKS’ my child needs an EHCP, cause that’s the ‘IN’ thing to do…‘
‘…how other LAs restrict the number of EHCPs, whereas we don’t?‘
Just two comments from Simon Webb, Conservative Councillor, which have caused great distress to SEND parents in the Kent County Council area and across the UK. You can watch it here if you’d like to see just his comments. Watching the whole meeting it is clear that Simon does actually, I think, care about SEND kids. However, his overriding worry seems to be about budgets and reporting. His ignorance and outdated opinions of SEND parents and their children is simply abhorrent and actually in his part of this sub-committee rather worrying!
Neither of them works!
‘I’m aware of many families who have never once taken their own child to school because the state pays a cab to take that child to school, even though it might only be up the road and they are perfectly capable of driving themselves because neither of them works.‘
This is Sarah Hudson, Conservative Councillor, who thinks that parents just ‘ASK’ for an EHCP and wonders if it is more likely a child ‘GETS’ an EHCP if they do, rather than via the school. To make such a sweeping generalisation that many parents just get EHCPs so they can make the choice not to work and sit at home while their child goes to school is again absolutely abhorrent. To tar us all with this same brush is disgusting and downright offensive! Again you can watch here to listen in full to her comments. At one point she actually talks about how Autism ‘syndrome’ (again they both need lessons in correct inclusive language and terminology) could possibly be socio-economic and based on parents’ higher intelligence in Maths and IT!!!! She is quickly dismissed by professionals with evidence.
I’m pretty sure Mr Webb or Ms Hudson would not like to be tarred with the same brush as those councillors and MPs who take advantage of a nice salary, second jobs, consultancy work and huge expense claims!
Being a SEND parent isn’t easy. I’ve spoken before about how hard it can be at times, the extra effort it takes to parent a child with additional needs, the appointments they have to attend, the paperwork we need to fill out, the evidence we need to provide, the knockbacks we get, the fights we have to fight, all so they can access the support they need and the education they deserve, just like their neurotypical peers.
This isn’t a call for sympathy, this is to let local authorities know that we will not sit back quietly whilst they change the parameters of EHCP qualification criteria, whilst the government understaff CAMHS services and closes vital children’s centres, whilst they reduce funding just as we need it more than ever.
Enough is Enough
Autism, ADHD, Dys differences and neurodiversity is not going away, in fact as we know referrals are only increasing. This is not down to some fad or TikTok (yes there will always be a minority who jump on the bandwagon, but that is to be expected).
Between April 2021 and March 2022, the number of patients with an open referral for suspected autism has increased from just over 74,000 to just over 103,000 (Autism Statistics, April 2021 to March 2022 – NDRS (digital.nhs.uk)).
The percentage of pupils with an education, health and care (EHC) plan has increased to 4.0% from 2021 to 2022, and the percentage of pupils with SEN but no EHC plan (SEN support) has increased to 12.6% over the same period (Special educational needs in England, Academic year 2021/22 – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk)). Our children are being failed by the government and LA’s. Teachers are on their knees; underfunded, understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with such neurodiverse classrooms day in day out.
Please go to my Instagram stories for details about a London protest which will be taking place soon, to fight for our children, to ensure they are able to access the world and all that is available to them just as their NT peers do. To ensure that they don’t have to fight the same fights we are now when they have their children…