Bristol Send Crisis Rally:
Send is in crisis and it’s a national problem that needs our attention, was the clear message at the Bristol Send Rally and Picnic yesterday.
Families, children, local councillors and others working within the Bristol Send community, came together for a family friendly event involving speeches and drum making activities.
Local and national media descended on the event, putting Bristol’s difficulties firmly in the spotlight.
Towards the end, Bristol Live reporter Sarah Turnnidge, filmed a group of parents that took the protest directly inside City Hall. Parents desperate for the future of their children called for Mayor Marvin Rees to intervene in the crisis.
The Bristol event was part of a coordinated action across England, by SEND National Crisis. Demonstrations took place across the country, with a petition of over 12,000 signatures handed into Downing Street.
The aim was to highlight how underfunded Send education in England is, as well as the number of children being excluded from school due to unsupported needs.
Mainstream school Send funding comes through the Notional SEN Budget, which is not ring-fenced. This allows the money to be spent in other areas within the school. Depleting school budgets means the money ends up being spent on things like leaking roofs and building maintenance long before it can be allocated to supporting children with their education.
This was one of the key messages of the national campaign, that Government funding for Send ‘must be ring-fenced for Send use only’.
It was something echoed throughout Bristol speeches as well as a lack of provision for autism, school places, growth fund, school admissions and ‘catastrophic’ delays to the EHCP process in the city.
Kerry Bailes was the SEND National Crisis Bristol organiser for Bristol. “Our children’s education must not be cut short,” she said. “Send budgets must be increased to match needs. Today we are one voice. We demand the Government end the Send funding crisis.”
The list of speakers at the event included:
Kerry Bailes: SEND National Crisis Bristol
Jon Reddiford: National Education Union
Christine Townsend: Teacher, Governor and Education Activist
Nura Aabe: Autism Independence
Sam Downie: Actor, Presenter and Broadcaster
Laura Fogg Rogers: SEND National Crisis South Glos
Lee Starr-Elliott: Prospective Council Candidate and CWU Equality Officer
Purple Ella: YouTuber and Advocate
Julie Thomas: Sunshine Salad Bar and Meeting Place
Sally Kent: Champion for children and parents’ rights in Education
Cllr Claire Young: South Glos Council
Jen Smith: Bristol Independent SEND Community
Cllr Tim Kent: Bristol City Council
Sandy Hore-Ruthven: Mayoral Candidate for Bristol and CEO of Creative Youth Network
The speakers were live streamed on the Bristol and South Glos Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BristolSouthGlosSENDCrisis/
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