A mother is set to appear on BBC Panorama as part of an investigation into special needs education tonight.

Hayley Harding, founder of Sutton EHCP Crisis, speaks to reporter Sean Dilley in an episode called 'Fighting for an Education' at 7.35 pm.

The mother was scouted following her ongoing campaign against the council's SEND services, Cognus Ltd. 

Cognus has previously been under scrutiny by both parents and Ofsted. 

In 2018, it was found to have denied around 700 children for an assessment for extra support. 

The Care Quality Commission and Ofsted also raised ‘significant concerns’ about special needs services in the borough, back in March 2018.

Hayley first launched Sutton EHCP Crisis after the council wanted to send her autistic son, who has physical disabilities, to a mainstream school - despite his needs being addressed by health care professionals. 

Your Local Guardian:

Since it launched in March 2019, the group has rallied almost 400 frustrated parents. 

On tonight's episode of Panorama, Hayley calls out Sutton Council for failing to recognise children's needs across the borough.

Speaking to Sutton Guardian, Hayley said: "I never thought when I first started the group, 18 months later I would be talking about the situation on Panorama.  

"When I started the group there was no way I could have envisaged that so many families were being affected by the injustice taking place here, it’s really shocking”.   
In our group’s view, children are continually being rejected for educational help for reasons that are not lawful. 

"The council needs to stop pretending that everything is fine and that parents are happy. 

"We want children to be assessed and if it’s found that they need help, then they should be given it. 

Your Local Guardian:

She added: "It's heart-breaking, parents come to me out of desperation weekly. 

"I know how they feel having gone through it myself. Being denied is the most stressful thing I have had to go through. 

"Children are put in situations that are entirely wrong for them- it's awful.

The only way to fight this is to bring parents together. Too many children are suffering, its got to stop."

Ahead of tonight's screening, Sutton Council said: 

"We are proud of the strength of our partnerships with schools, parents and carers, and of the quality of service we provide to our children and young people, particularly those who are vulnerable or have additional needs.

"Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission inspected SEND services in the borough earlier this year and commended the quality of support offered at both the Council and Cognus. 

"This was also acknowledged by Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families. In a letter from July 2020 she states; ‘I was particularly encouraged by the joint working now taking place in Sutton across education, health and care - and by the impact this is having on children’s confidence; the quality of Education, Health and Care plans and feedback from parents.’ 

"We have been in extensive communication with Mrs Harding consistently over the past two years and she has had access to review and complaint processes, including meetings with senior professionals, councillors and the independent expert. 
"The vast majority of parents and carers of the 1,931 children with EHCPs in Sutton are positive about the service they receive. The Council continues to work with all of them to maintain and improve those services.”