'It changes your whole life' - SEND mum on finding the right school

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Calls for an emergency meeting on the SEND review have been rejected - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The mother of an autistic girl who missed out on five months of school, due to failings by Suffolk County Council, said attending a specialist placement has transformed life for the whole family.

Last month Suffolk County Council apologised to the mother-of-three after the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman upheld a complaint that the council failed to provide a suitable alternative for her daughter when she was unable to attend school due to anxiety. 

Initially the council had refused the woman's request for a special educational needs assessment after her daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2019.

Speaking about her daughter's new school, the mother who does not wish to be named, said: "The big thing for her now is she feels safe there. It is really brilliant they have made her feel comfortable enough and safe enough to be able to be herself.

Endeavour House, in Russell Road, Ipswich

Suffolk County Council has aplogised to families following a damning report into the failings in special education needs and disabilities services (SEND) in Suffolk. - Credit: Jason Noble LDRS

"When she was at her old school when she was there full time, she would come home and spend the whole evening in meltdown mode. 

"That then impacts on the rest of the family, her siblings would hide themselves away and we would be walking on egg shells all the time. 

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"Now she is in a new setting it literally changes your whole life because she is not anxious in the mornings, she is not in meltdown mode all the time - so we can lead a reasonably normal life again. It makes a massive difference." 

The mother, who has also has another child with special educational needs, said the struggle to get her daughter into the right school was "frustrating" but urged other parents to "trust your instincts and keep fighting".

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Following the ombudsman's ruling Suffolk County Council said: "We fully accept the decision of the ombudsman and, as a result of this case, we will review our policies, provide staff training and ensure the right provision is offered for children in similar circumstances.”

In September Suffolk County Council apologised to SEND families after an independent review by Lincolnshire County Council concluded that weaknesses existed in a host of areas and made nine recommendations for future improvement. 

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