A Suffolk parent of twins with special educational needs has dismissed apologies over SEND provision in the county, saying "actions speak louder than words".

Suffolk local area partnership has apologised to families after a damning Ofsted report criticised "widespread and/or systemic failings" in the partnership.

Abigail Mattin, who lives near Woodbridge, said her four-year-old twins with disabilities eventually managed to get a place at a specialist school, but it was a "fight".

Ms Mattin said: "We arranged to take them to tribunal, and a few weeks before they found my children places. We were fortunate enough that our children did get a place at a specialist school, but we did have to fight for it.

"Many children didn't get a place and many are in the same position this year. EHCs are being delayed by months, leading to children not being able to get places this September.

"It's really unfair. Nobody asks to be in this position. My children have disabilities because they were born extremely prematurely.

"Something like education is a basic right. The government has to give every child an education, but it does not have to be an appropriate education."

She added that "actions speak louder than words": "In our experience, the council never called us back. There's no transparency.

"Our children were not able to go to a mainstream school, and if they hadn't been offered a place it would have had a huge impact on their education. They would have had to stay at home for another year.

"There is just not enough funding, and not enough places. There are more children than there are placements."

Read more: 'One SEND school will not be enough,' say Suffolk parents amid shortage of places

Nicola Beach, Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council, said: “We accept that our improvement work has not yet had the positive impact on the experience of children and young people with SEND and their families in Suffolk.

“This is not good enough and I apologise to children and young people and their families.

“We accept the findings of the report and we must now go further and faster as a partnership to deliver the urgent improvements needed.

“Our SEND staff work with passion and conviction every day to make children's lives better and it is important to recognise this and thank them for their ongoing hard work and commitment.

East Anglian Daily Times: Nicola Beach, chief executive of Suffolk County CouncilNicola Beach, chief executive of Suffolk County Council (Image: Simply C Photography)

"I understand the challenges that colleagues face and that is why I will continue to work with senior leaders from the NHS to strengthen changes to make a difference.”

Ed Garratt, Chief Executive of NHS Suffolk & East Essex ICB, said: “Children in Suffolk with special educational needs and disabilities deserve the very best support available, and it is deeply disappointing that as a system we have still not been able to deliver this for them.

“Despite the very great challenges around demand and funding, the ICB is absolutely committed to working with its system partners to ensure the required improvements to services are achieved as speedily as possible.

“We have already identified ways we can reduce the current long waiting times for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) assessment and diagnoses and a recovery plan is being implemented and has been shared with the Ofsted and CQC inspectors.

“The ICB has also invested £700,000 in recurring funding in the voluntary and community sector to provide support for families waiting for these diagnoses, as well as co-producing a new parent resource pack as part of the Suffolk Local Offer. This is in addition to £1.2m invested recently in our Children's Mental Health Services.

“The inspectors provided positive feedback about our crisis mental health support and peripatetic service, which is an excellent collaboration with our voluntary and community sector partners.”

Read more: 'They are not listening' - Huge protest over SEND provision held in Ipswich

Rachel Hood, Cabinet Member for Education, SEND and Skills, at Suffolk County Council, said: “We are sorry that experiences and outcomes of some children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities are not as good as they should be, and as we want them to be.

East Anglian Daily Times: Rachel Hood with protestors last year.Rachel Hood with protestors last year. (Image: Charlotte Bond)

“The report has confirmed that we already know where our problems are and we will continue with our programme of significant investment and reform so that improvements are felt by all.

Read more: 'We are sorry' - Council apologises for letting SEND children in Suffolk down

“There are more than 21,000 children and young people identified in Suffolk schools as having SEND. This number has increased by 30% since 2019. We are aware we have struggled to keep up with this demand.

“Sadly, we are not alone in the challenges we face and, alongside our Suffolk MPs, we continue to lobby Government for greater support. Nationally, the Government accepts that