Children protest SEND changes outside Hackney Town Hall

Outcry: children protest SEND changes outside Hackney Town Hall. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

Parents and carers have launched a crowdfunding campaign for a judicial review against cuts to Hackney’s services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Within a few days of launching the page, the campaign group Hackney Special Education Crisis has already met their initial target of £2,000, with more than £3,000 in donations received.

It follows a protest by parents, carers, teachers and children outside Hackney Town Hall in February against changes to SEND funding.

Hackney Council dropped proposals for a different funding approach to SEND after public opposition.

But the council is going ahead with five per cent cuts to high needs SEND funding, which it blames on government cuts to the council’s SEND budget.

The campaigners helped see off the earlier proposals, warn of a range of threats to SEND services.

Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble.

Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble (Photograph: Hackney Council)

On their crowdfunding page, they said: “On 1st April 2018 Hackney Council is making cuts of 5 per cent to high needs funding, but there are much bigger cuts to come.

“They are planning to make ‘savings’ of around £5 million through further cuts to SEND funding in mainstream schools and special schools. Transport and pupil referral units are also on the hit list.”

They continue: “We want to put a stop to these cuts for all children with special educational needs and disabilities in Hackney.

“We would also like to send a clear message to Hackney Council and to other councils making similar cuts that this isn’t acceptable.”

Deputy Mayor Anntoinette Bramble has said she wants to work with campaigners to find a way to plug the £6 million SEND funding gap, and is setting up a Task and Finish group with parents and carers.

She has said: “We are committed to supporting all the SEND children and their families in our borough.”

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