Norfolk schools slated over support for disabled parents

Disabled parents in Norfolk are struggling to help with their children's education because of poor support from many schools, according to a hard-hitting report that is published today.

The report says one in seven parents has a physical or mental disability that makes it more difficult for them to support their children's schooling.

But they are being hampered by 'inadequate' access to information, websites with poor disability access, problems with travelling to schools and difficulty in seeing and understanding homework.

The Access All Schools report, published by Norfolk Disabled Parents Alliance (NDPA) urges schools, Norfolk County Council and the government to do more to end the 'inequality' and to give parents with disabilities more help.

Access All Schools is the result of a survey of Norfolk's disabled parents on how schools support them to help their children learn.

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It found that some schools supported disabled parents and their children very well, but 'too many' did not promote equality for all, with barriers remaining for some parents, particularly in getting information about how well their children were learning, talking to teachers and taking children to school.

Kathy Saunders, chairman of NDPA, said: 'Parents and schools need a system that all parents recognise and can be confident in using to tell schools if they have support needs.

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'Access All Schools recommends that schools routinely offer access, communication, equality and support options to give every parent an easy way to tell schools what support they need to help their children learn.'

She added: 'There are over 18,000 disabled parents with children in Norfolk schools, representing one in seven of all parents.

'Disabled parents and their families will be seriously hit by the cumulative effects of proposed cuts by both the county council and the government.

'They may experience a triple whammy of cuts to services from both community care and children's services, and directly from the government around benefits. About half of all disabled parents and their families are known to be living in poverty now, and that can only get worse.'

The report was set to be launched today at Poringland Community Centre 10.30am to 12 noon. North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who is also deputy prime minister Nick Clegg's chief political adviser, will be there to receive copies of the report to give to Mr Clegg, prime minister David Cameron and other MPs.

NDPA is run by and for disabled parents to improve choice, support and equality for all disabled parents. Access All Schools is funded by the Norfolk Community Foundation and the National Lottery through Awards for All.

The next stage of Access all Schools will be to provide training and information for disabled parents to take part in consultations with schools over improving their services.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services at the county council, said: 'We welcome this report and have supported what we feel is an extremely valuable piece of work.

'We want all of Norfolk's schools to be accessible to all parents and very many do some fantastic work in supporting and engaging with parents.

'However, we must all work together to ensure that disabled parents receive the support they need in accessing information about their child's school and advice about their child's education. This will ensure that they can play the active part in their child's learning that any parent would wish to.'

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