Mum 'crying herself to sleep' as young son with SEN still without school place

A worried mum says that she has been "crying herself to sleep" as she fears for the future of her young son with SEN, who is still without a place in school next year.

Linda Stewart says that she has been waiting months to find out what school her son Parker will be going to this year with him being one of over 130 children with SEN who do not have a place in primary one secured.

Speaking to Belfast Live, the concerned mum said that she has had very little communication from the Education Authority about her son's future and says that despite repeated emails, she only ever receives automated replies.

Read more: Belfast boy without place in primary school after missing nursery last year

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She said: "I have been trying to find out about where Parker will be going to school this year for months and I have been told that I will receive information on certain dates and then when it comes to them still no decision has been made.

"I have sent countless emails asking for updates and only ever received an automated response and it feels like nobody cares about the impact this is having on my son and our family. I am so worried about him not having a place in school next year I have been crying myself at sleep at night.

"Due to his additional needs it is so important that Parker has somewhere that he is able to go to school and help his development and he has a statement saying that he needs to be placed in a special school setting, and we live in the catchment area of three of these.

"There are still so many children with SEN who have no idea where they will be going to school and it is not fair that they are treated like this. If this was happening to children in mainstream school there would be a huge outcry but with SEN children there does not seem to be the same urgency."

Education Authority statistics say that of 1488 statemented children due to go into primary one this year, 1356 have secured a place while 132 have not.

There are also 49 children without a place in nursery school, 67 without a place in Year 8. In total there are 252 SEN children who still need a place in school.

A spokesperson for the Education Authority (EA) said: “We fully understand that this is an anxious time for the family and are committed to ensuring that all children with special educational needs (SEN) receive an appropriate school place that meets their needs.

“As part of our commitment to ensuring families have support and information, all parents/carers of children without a school place were updated on 28 th June and 8 th July. The latest update for families included details of their dedicated Family Support Link Officer who will be providing personalised support until a placement is confirmed.

“In this specific case, we are continuing to consult with the family and appropriate schools in relation to the pupil’s placement. This is an ongoing process, and we cannot pre-empt the outcome of that.”

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