The Warwickshire councillors failed my child-an apology just isn’t enough.


I was sitting in the car when I got the message. It was an ordinary school pick-up. I’d arrived early to try and wrangle a good parking spot (I’d failed) and was soon to greet my 4-year-old son outside his classroom; where his teacher would tell me about his great day, he’d skip out of school and wave to a few of the new friends he’d made in the playground. Pretty standard after-school stuff but something that I hadn’t imagined would be possible 6 months ago. See, my son is autistic, and for the last few years, I’ve been fighting to get him the support he needed and to be in a school that helped him thrive. But, I had done it.

‘Jenna just wondering if you’ve seen this video?!’ read the Facebook message. As someone who likes to talk openly about life with an autistic child on social media, I often get sent news stories or helpful information to share with others. But nothing could have prepared me for the video I watched.

It was a discussion with a group of local councilors talking about children with SEND in Warwickshire…

-“We shouldn’t automatically accept the plea of a mother that little Willy has got ADHD, when in fact little Willy is just really badly behaved and needs some form of strict correction.”

-“You may have found if you went to a school in the 1960s and 70s many of those children weren’t in schools but in institutions of different types at that time. They must have had better ways of dealing with them at that time. Let’s go back to some of those ways.”

Mums are swapping tips to get a diagnosis.”

I watched it once. And I watched it again-waiting for the punch line. It was a parody surely? Or perhaps a clip filmed long ago taken out of context? I knew Warwickshire council had failed my son at various points over the past few years, but surely they didn’t think these things? Wouldn’t say them out loud? But they had.

So I burst into tears.

This wasn’t the first time Warwickshire Council had failed my child, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

There was the 2 year wait for the autism assessment.

The time I spent £10,000 on private speech therapy because the NHS speech therapist kept offering me a Zoom every three months.

The time I paid for a physio assessment, because the NHS thought a YouTube video was sufficient to help with dyspraxia.

The time everyone told me all this would get better when he had an EHCP-except they refused it. Warwickshire Council has the second highest refusal rate for ECHP needs assessments in the country. The letter invited me to contact them for feedback, so I called and emailed every single day but not one phone call or email was answered.

That journey has a happy ending-I took the council to mediation; asked them why they kept asking me to fill in form after form telling them what my child couldn’t do, when all I was left with was no help and a piece of paper with my child’s problems. I promptly burst into tears but they relented-the ECHP was ours.

After a school move and getting the EHCP in place, my son now has the same educational opportunities as any other child, with or without autism, which is the only thing most of us SEND parents are fighting for.

Even though that journey was full of tears and sleepless nights, as an ex-teacher, I believed that most people in public service are for the right reasons. I couldn’t blame them for sleepless nights and stress, there were budget cuts, staffing problems, and waiting lists but they wanted to do the right thing. But these comments have shown how Warwickshire councilors see our children with additional needs in the cold light of day, and an apology is irrelevant, they should not play any part in making any decisions for them.

If this is what they are saying on camera, openly, what are they saying when it’s switched off?

Councilor Morgan who sits on several committees for children and young people says he regretted “any offence caused by my choice of words.” A reminder his words were: “needs some form of strict correction.” Mr Hammersley apologised for his “lack of care” with his words. A reminder he said children with additional needs used to be in institutions and “let’s go back to some of these ways.”

This has gone beyond an apology, and as a mum to an autistic child in Warwickshire, it is not one that I accept. These councillors need to be immediately be dismissed by Warwick Council, as well as time and money spent on educating everyone involved in this area on the realities of having a child with additional needs.

Our children are not broken and don’t need correction-but the system does, and it starts with making sure these councillors are no longer allowed to make any decision for them.

You can sign the petition for Warwick Council to dismiss the councillors here.

One comment

  1. Amazing article ♥️👌🏼
    Every mother shouldn’t have to be a warrior. I see SO many women in my practice who are totally burned out, beyond exhausted, a version of “functional freeze” in battle with a broken system and STILL putting everyone else’s needs before their own. 😢
    Too right the system is broken.

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