‘Disabled kids failed” by Havering Council

A DISABILITY support group says short-sighted children’s services officials are costing taxpayers’ money and leaving the most needy youngsters without education in Havering.

A DISABILITY support group says children’s services officials are costing taxpayers money and leaving the most needy youngsters without education in Havering.

SEN-Post 16 for Havering claims many children with special educational needs are being forced to make lengthy out-of-borough journeys for schooling, which is costing the Town Hall huge amounts of money.

Spokeswoman Susan Cumber, says officials have ignored a “damning” report criticising a lack of communication between services and parents, along with suggestions for improvements.

Her daughter, Jemma, is one of 14 post-16 children travelling to St John’s School in Woodford for her education.

She estimates each child is costing the borough more than �100,000 for three years when they could be educated more cheaply closer to home.

Before the Recorder went to press the council vowed to meet with school heads next week to address the shortage of places.

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Mrs Cumber said: “There is absolutely no in-borough special needs education provision for a large majority of young people with learning disabilities in Havering.

“So many parents this year, including myself, have been forced to seek a school for their very vulnerable children that means travelling a great distance from their homes.”

The study, commissioned by the council this year, outlines a number of improvements, including adding sixth forms at Corbets Tey and Dycort schools. Currently only two establishments offer post-16 services in the borough and they are not suitable for the largest proportion of children with special needs.

SEN-Post 16 claims that improving Havering’s own provision would save �1.7 million over six years at a time when officials need to save more than �15.6 million.

But the council says the cancellation of Building Schools for the Future funding has curtailed any previous action plans.

Mrs Cumber said: “Our group continues to question this nonsensical and costly practice but have failed to get a satisfactory explanation from borough officers as to why our young people are being failed at great expense to the taxpayer.

“I understood that local authorities should be looking to save money. Havering Council seems to be doing the opposite even when a money-saving alternative is presented on a plate.”

Cabinet Member for Children and Learning, Cllr Paul Rochford said; “We know we need to extend special education places and we accept the report’s findings. Now that Building Schools for the Future funding is no longer available, officers will meet with headteachers next week to discuss new ways of providing extra places.”

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