PARENTS and teachers are set to protest plans for the council to join the government’s controversial Safety Valve programme.

The protest is organised by BCP Alliance for Children and Schools and will take place outside the Bournemouth Civic Centre annex on Tuesday evening, ahead of a meeting of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

The group, which is made up of parents, teachers and other professionals and residents, will protest BCP Council’s proposed entrance into the Safety Valve programme.

As reported, the authority was invited to join the scheme in July, which aims to cut education deficits through sweeping reforms and strict cost-saving measures.

But headteachers, parents and SEND campaigners have criticised the scheme, saying there would be ‘horrendous’ consequences for education in the conurbation.

Read more on the Safety Valve programme:

BCP Alliance for Schools and Children said the council is ‘already failing’ children with special educational needs.

It said that the authority could be faced with ‘costly legal challenges’ should it join the scheme.

This is due to limiting Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) issued and the subsequent placement of more disabled children into mainstream schools without adequate support or funding, the group said.

It added that schools would be asked to ‘do more with less money’.

Rachael Filmer, from the group, said: “This programme is potentially devastating for every child and school in BCP.

“It’s crucial that our children, parents and schools be heard before they sign a binding financial agreement that could damage our children long term and make the financial situation far worse.”

The group is calling for BCP Council to carry out equality impact assessments before decisions are made, and to hold a full public consultation on the plans.

It has also called for the plan to be subject to full council scrutiny and a vote. A petition calling for this has been signed more than 2,100 times.

Councillor Richard Burton, portfolio holder for children and young people, previously said that the council was ‘under increasing pressure’ due to increased demand outstripping demand.

Cllr Burton added that ‘considerable work’ had been undertaken to look at the implications of joining the scheme.

BCP Council has submitted a 15-year plan to the programme and is awaiting a response from the Department for Education.

The protest will begin at 5pm on Tuesday, January 23, outside the Bournemouth Civic Centre annex.