Parents ask for more special needs schools in Portsmouth

(left to right), Clare Joynson and her daughter Amber Joynson (four), with Helen Barter and her daughter Mollie Barter (four).
(left to right), Clare Joynson and her daughter Amber Joynson (four), with Helen Barter and her daughter Mollie Barter (four).
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HUNDREDS of parents have signed a petition calling for more special needs units in Portsmouth.

This September will see the government introduce special educational needs and disability reforms in the Children & Families Act 2014.

It will give families more personalised care and assistance from birth to 25.

But some parents feel it will only work if their child can get into a special school and are worried there aren’t enough spaces locally.

Clare Joynson, 33, has a four-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy.

Amber has been offered a place for a year at Portsdown Primary School in the development assessment unit. But this is only for a year, and she may need to attend a special school later.

Clare, of Lynn Road in North End, said: ‘The way I see it, there should be more units attached to schools.

‘There are a few, but there are only two or three that would be suitable for my daughter.

‘I can’t see her coping in a mainstream school.’

Helen Barter, 38, from Copnor Road, has a four-year-old daughter called Mollie. Fortunately she has a place at Cliffdale Primary School in Portsmouth.

Helen said: ‘We meet a lot of parents with special needs kids. The general consensus I have been getting back is that parents are going to these schools and being told they are full, so they have to go to mainstream schools.

‘I support other parents because I know what it’s like going through this. There are people on a daily basis saying they are being denied a place.’

Dr Julia Katherine, child support commissioning manager at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘When compared with all local authorities in England, Portsmouth provides nearly double the number of special school places than the national average. Of course, it won’t always be the case that children with SEN must or should attend a special school.

‘In line with the central tenet of inclusion, many parents of children with SEN actively choose for their children to attend mainstream schools with support.’

So far, 250 people have signed the petition. Visit change.org and search “special needs schools Portsmouth”.