Clive Walder, Birmingham Socialist Party
Several dozen parents and children demonstrated outside a meeting of Birmingham City Council on 10 January to protest against swingeing cuts and the possible outsourcing of SENDIASS (Special Education Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Services).
SENDIASS is an arm’s length council body that helps pupils with Special Educational Needs access appropriate support for their education. Parents, anti-cuts campaigners and trade unionists gave moving accounts of the help it provides.
Previous cuts to the Special Education budget by the Labour-run council led to the service being given a ‘poor’ rating and consequently it is now being run by a government commissioner.
Speakers at the protest outlined how out of touch the commissioner is and feared that pupils wouldn’t get the appropriate support in future. Hypocritically, two Labour councillors spoke at the rally attacking the decision to cut and outsource. It would have been much more useful if they had refused to implement cuts in the past and adequately funded the service!
Local trade unionists, Birmingham Socialist Party, and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition supporters will continue to demand accountability from the council and the adoption of a no-cuts needs-based budget.