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Fighting for Archie: March mum launches petition to get more special needs provision



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A mum has launched a petition calling for better special needs provision in a Fenland town after her son was unable to gain a place at a special school.

Amy Loveridge is determined to do something about a situation which she says is denying children like her five-year-old son Archie the education they need.

Since launching her petition on the 38 degrees website and sharing it to Facebook on Thursday Amy, who has two older children, has been blown away by the support she's received - much of it coming from parents who say they are in the same situation.

Amy Loveridge says her five-year-old son Archie is missing out on an education because of a lack of special needds places in Fenland. (53548325)
Amy Loveridge says her five-year-old son Archie is missing out on an education because of a lack of special needds places in Fenland. (53548325)

Amy, who lives in March, explained: "Archie is autistic and really needs to be in a special school. He is at Westwood in March at the moment, and they have been brilliant, I can't fault what they are trying to do for Archie. But they can't offer him the specialist help he needs.

"He should be in Year One but has been held back and is still in reception because he was nowhere near ready to move up, and it is likely it will be the same next September when he should be going into Year Two he will probably still be in reception.

"That is not fair to Archie, he needs to be in a special school but there is just nowhere for him to go locally. Meadowgate at Wisbech, which is where I would like him to be is full and the other schools are in places like Huntingdon, Peterborough and Ely and that is just too far away, and he hasn't been offered a place in those.

Amy Loveridge says her five-year-old son Archie is missing out on an education because of a lack of special needds places in Fenland. (53548322)
Amy Loveridge says her five-year-old son Archie is missing out on an education because of a lack of special needds places in Fenland. (53548322)

"But even if he was I wouldn't be happy. He is tired when he comes out of school now let alone having to make a 45 minute journey both ways. He is too young to be waved off in a taxi every day and I'm not sure how he would cope because of his autism.

"There are a lot of children with special needs in March and I can't understand why we haven't got our own special school, or at least a special unit for them - it makes no sense that's why I have launched this petition calling on the education authority to do something about this situation.

"I never imagined when I put my post on Facebook the sort of response I have got. Over 170 comments, most of them from parents like me facing the same problems I'm facing with Archie.

Amy is calling for a special school like Meadowgate Academy for March.
Amy is calling for a special school like Meadowgate Academy for March.

"I plan to present the petition to Councillor Jan French so she can take it to the county council for me but I need at least 500 signatures for that to happen, so I'm hoping people will get behind me and sign it so we can hopefully get what the children like Archie need, so they can have an education the same as everybody else."

Coun French said she is happy to present the petition so it can be discussed at the next meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council, but is conscious that is next week (December 14) and is concerned there will not be enough signatures in time.

She said: "It really is a matter of urgency to get the 500 signatures so it can go to full council, if it doesn't make this month's meeting then it will have to wait until February. Amy already has over 350 people who have signed up so it won't take too many more if people want to support her."

Amy Loveridge says her five-year-old son Archie is missing out on an education because of a lack of special needds places in Fenland. (53548331)
Amy Loveridge says her five-year-old son Archie is missing out on an education because of a lack of special needds places in Fenland. (53548331)

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council said: "For the academic year 21/22, the local authority commissioned 175 places at Meadowgate special school with 177 pupils currently on roll. We have seen an increased demand on places particularly in Fenland.

"In line with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough SEND Strategy, the local authority is currently working on plans across Cambridgeshire for increased Special Educational Needs (SEND) provision including SEN Units and Enhanced Resource Bases attached to mainstream schools.

"We are also in discussions with Meadowgate on developing additional provision within the Fenland area for pupils requiring an area special school placement.”

To sign Amy's petition visit: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/



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