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Bury St Edmunds mother feels like 'second class citizen' after being faced with 'illogical' placement offers for SEND child

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A Bury St Edmunds mother has said she feels like a 'second class citizen' after issues with access to school placements for her SEND child.

Carla Morris, who has epilepsy and chronic fatigue syndrome, has struggled to get her daughter Lucy a place in a special school suitable for her needs as her disability means she cannot drive.

Lucy, 11, was offered a place at a school in Haverhill, a 30 minute drive from their family home, but Mrs Morris and her husband, who is also unable to drive due to chronic pain syndrome, felt this was not a sufficient placement.

Carla Morris with her daughter Lucy. Picture: Carla Morris (53828304)
Carla Morris with her daughter Lucy. Picture: Carla Morris (53828304)

They said, as they would be unable to pick her up in the event of an emergency and would have to rely on a taxi to take her and return her from school, they felt uncomfortable sending Lucy there.

Mrs Morris has slammed the 'illogical' placement system for SEND children, and is calling for further provisions to support special needs children and their families.

"There is no thought on the child's family's behalf. There is nothing, absolutely nothing," she said.

Lucy Morris, 11, is due to move to secondary school in September. Picture: Carla Morris (53831918)
Lucy Morris, 11, is due to move to secondary school in September. Picture: Carla Morris (53831918)

"We thought that Suffolk County Council would help us and in actual fact they want to post the children further and further away."

Mrs Morris said a recent school closure at Lucy's current school following a water leak on the A14 cemented the worry for sending her daughter to a school further than walking distance from her home.

It took Mrs Morris 20 minutes to walk to the school to collect her daughter in the emergency, something she could not do if Lucy was further afield.

She said what she views as a lack of help from the council has impacted her family immensely, especially her daughter who after moving schools just recently due to lack of support, is due to move to a secondary school in September.

Mrs Morris said: "It makes you feel like a second class citizen it really does. You pay all of your taxes and for what?

"She doesn't deal well with bad situations anyway. She lost her best friend who she had from pre school all the way through primary when she moved schools, which was horrible.

"We have a voice its just they choose not to listen."

Rachel Hood, Cabinet Member for Education, SEND and Skills said: “We have made significant longer-term improvements within SEND, which we continue to build upon. We have agreed a £45.1m capital programme to create an additional 870 specialist education places over a 5-year period to 2024.

"Two hundred and ten places opened last year with a further 310 opening this academic year which includes new specialist schools in Bungay, Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. The creation of specialist units within mainstream schools aims to reduce the distance children have to travel to get the support they need.”