PARENTS who believe their children have been failed by the local education system are uniting in the hope of improving special needs provisions.

James-Swallow Gaunt - whose 17-year-old autistic son Ethan used to attend Penistone Grammar School before he was removed and home-schooled during his year ten studies in 2022 - has created an online group to allow all parents who feel their children with special educational needs aren’t being treated correctly can communicate.

The Facebook page - called Barnsley Send - allows previously unknown issues to be raised.

James told the Chronicle: “We set the Facebook page live and so far have had 92 people join.

“Out of that, 18 families with similar experiences are taking part, and five of them have ongoing issues being investigated.

“It’s nice for parents to offload - there’s a lot of stress they’re having to deal with and they feel no-one’s listening.

“But for others it’s also good to get advice on their rights and what they can do next

“There are lots of stories with people who have the same experiences, so it’s widespread and systematic.”

James felt the need to take his son out of school after feeling teachers had singled him out and were ignoring his needs at school.

He recalls that Ethan’s ‘mental health degraded’, as he began locking himself away and self-harming.

“He has struggles with maths,” James added.

“It’s in his plan that he’s got cognitive issues, and yet we were told that he had to do mainstream maths as well as digital self-learning.

“He was singled out, with comments written in his planner and regular detentions.”

James and the other parents who have reached out to him have already held an in-person meeting.James has already taken his problems to the school, council, South Yorkshire Police and Department for Education as he hopes to see changes made to ensure what happened to Ethan never happens again.

He said: “The families of children with special educational needs and disabilities are uniting in solidarity, standing up against an unequal system that has failed to provide a full and meaningful education in a safe and supportive environment for young people with social, emotional and mental health needs.

“This collective effort aims to shed light on the challenges faced by vulnerable children and to demand a fair and just resolution to the long-standing issues plaguing the educational landscape.”