Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) have launched a new group amid claims the council is letting their families down.

CWaC SEND Accountability started as a group of parents in the Cheshire West and Chester area who said they were forced to turn to each other for help after being ‘let down’ by the council’s special educational needs (SEN) department.

Since launching a few weeks ago, the group has grown and has a social media following of more than 900.

The group is also planning a protest outside Cheshire West and Chester’s HQ at The Portal in Ellesmere Port on April 30, from 10.30am to 1.30pm. The organising committee for the protest already has 40 members.

A spokeswoman for the group, said: “We quickly realised that it wasn’t just us, that there was a whole community of families out there who had been drastically let down by the SEN Team.”

The group said they have also surveyed more than 50 families and found 92 per cent said engaging with the SEN team was ‘actively detrimental to their mental health’, and only 3.8 per cent said they trusted the SEN team.

The spokeswoman added: "Once we realised the extent of the problem, we knew action needed to be taken, and by this time there was a whole network of parents on anti-anxiety medication because of their experiences, and riddled with fear about the prospect of any future engagement with the SEN team’ – and so CWaC SEND Accountability came into being.”

The spokeswoman said the planned peaceful protest would hopefully be a ‘cathartic moment’ for the families.

She said: “The CWaC SEND Accountability community also feel that 2024 may be the year for productive dialogue, and meaningful change on the CWaC SEN landscape.  We are being listened to for the first time - watch this space."

A council spokeswoman said a group of lead members, officers and the chair of the Parent Carer Forum have been working together to respond to the communications from CWaC SEND Accountability.

She said: "Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Cllr Louise Gittins, Cllr Adam Langan and Cllr Lisa Denson, and the chair of the Parent Carer Forum, recently met with representatives of the CWaC SEND Accountability group and are currently planning further face-to-face meetings with the group to provide responses and actions to address the concerns they raised.

“Officers have also invited the group to identify dates and venues for a meeting to take place at the earliest opportunity.”