Parents of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) children have said that plans for two new specialist schools in Suffolk are "too little, too late" to tackle the county's crisis of provision.

The Department for Education has announced funding for two new SEND schools in the county - a new Unity SLD School, providing 126 places in east Suffolk, and a new SENDAT Alternative Provision (AP) free school in Bury St Edmunds, expected to create 90 places.

The news comes after a damaging Ofsted report into Suffolk's services for children with SEND criticised "widespread and/or systemic failings" in the local area partnership in January.

Read more:

The county council had previously welcomed the news, but SEND parents have said it is not enough to improve the situation.

Nicola Graham, from Bury St Edmunds, has two children with additional needs. Three-year-old Annie has complex needs and cannot cope with mainstream school.

"Too little, too late," she said.

"Our current situation is that the council is proceeding to name a mainstream school for my child, that other schools have rejected because her needs are too complex.

"We can have more schools, but there's no common sense. More school places is a good thing. Will they put the right children in those schools?"

East Anglian Daily Times: Three-year-old Annie is still waiting for suitable education.Three-year-old Annie is still waiting for suitable education. (Image: Contributed)

Steven Wright, of Suffolk SEND Crisis, voiced similar concerns.

Mr Wright said: "It is too little, too late. The council have known for many years that they would reach this crisis point.

"We are grateful that they are trying to address this issue. Parents welcome extra capacity, but we must ask if they are meeting the needs present within the community."

East Anglian Daily Times: Mum Nicola Graham with her children.Mum Nicola Graham with her children. (Image: Contributed)

After Mr Wright's son lost out on his secondary education due to lack of provision, the ombudsman suggested the council to pay more than £4,000 to the family to remedy this loss.

He added: "Inclusion in mainstream school also needs to be improved. Many parents would be delighted to send their children to mainstream, but they are forced because they are suffering or excluded from mainstream."

East Anglian Daily Times: East Bergholt-based Steve WrightEast Bergholt-based Steve Wright (Image: Steve Wright)

Suffolk County Council was approached for further comment.

Previously, Andrew Reid, cabinet member for education and SEND at Suffolk County Council, said the new schools development is "great news for Suffolk".

Mr Reid added: "We are delighted that the Department for Education has approved two applications from SENDAT and Unity Schools Partnership.

East Anglian Daily Times: Councillor Andrew ReidCouncillor Andrew Reid (Image: Suffolk County Council)

“On top of this, Suffolk County Council has invested millions of pounds in creating new specialist places for SEND students, so that children and young people get the right type of school place to meet their needs.

“We know the life-changing impact that a successful special school can have on pupils and families and are committed to making sure that every child in Suffolk reaches their potential.”