Following disparaging comments made by councilors during a Kent County Council SEND sub-committee meeting. References were made to EHCPs being the ‘in-thing’, with SEN parents trying to access ‘add ons’, e.g. additional benefits and free transport to school. These comments were shared in social media, sparking outrage amongst the SEN parent community nationwide. One of the councillors involved, Simon Webb, has since resigned from his post on the sub-committee. On May 15th 2023, we launched an online petition calling for review and reform of the EHCP process.
The SEND system is broken because it is riddled with unlawful decision making in local areas, with no negative consequences for local decision-makers, only for young people. Local Authorities make routinely poor decisions in regard to carrying out EHC Needs assessments, issuing EHCPs, including adequate provision in EHCPs and in delivering the provisions contained within the legal document. Government statistics show that in 2022, only half of EHCPs were delivered within the 20-week statutory framework. LAs are shamelessly gatekeeping and breaking the law at every step of the EHCP process, yet they are not held accountable and it is the children, young people, parents and schools who suffer the consequences.
Parents who are able to challenge these poor decisions by appealing to the SEND Tribunal face waits of over 50 weeks for an appeal hearing. This is due to the sheer volume of decisions being challenged. The statistics also show that 96% of appeal hearings are awarded in the parents’ favour. Further evidence that LAs are making ill-judged, often unlawful decisions throughout the EHCP process. The consequence, in the worst case scenario, could mean a child is at home self-harming for up to a year, with no school place. Our petition was delivered to Downing Street on 21st June 2023, with 60,000 signatures, after the London protest outside the Houses of Parliament.
The London protest was the first phase of our plans. We will continue campaigning until we see a complete reform to the S.E.N.D education system