PARENTS of disabled children at a special educational needs school in Poole say it’s ‘unforgivable’  their children have had to miss ‘vital support’. 

The support staff at Victoria Education Centre have said they were left with no other option but to strike due to receiving minimum wage at an hourly rate of £10.42.

Parents and staff have criticised Livability, the charity that runs the school in Lindsay Road, Branksome.

Many parents say their children have missed several school days due to the strikes and, in turn, missed the specialist care provided by the school.

Emily Sutton, whose son Jenson attends the school, said: "Unlike regular children, we can’t sit and explain the reasons behind having random days off school.

“It is not something you can put into words for children with a learning disability.

“It is disruptive to their routine and causes dysregulated behaviour.”

For many parents, Victoria Education Centre is the only relief they get from caring for their children.

Kelly New is the mother of Barney, who has a rare cognitive condition called Parks-Weber syndrome.

Kelly said: “The only time I get respite from caring for Barney is when he’s at school.

“So, when you hear that the school is going to be striking for potentially eight days, you kind of go into panic.

“They aren’t just missing out on learning; they’re missing all their therapies, speech and occupational therapy.”

The parents say they support the staff at Victoria Education Centre, and deserve a pay increase for the care they provide for their children.

Kelly said: “I haven’t met any parents that don’t fully support teaching assistants wanting a pay rise because the job they do is incredible.

“I feel like Livability, the charity that runs the school, needs to be scrutinised.”

A spokesperson for Livability said they are about to enter intensive negotiations with a view to reaching a resolution.

Adele Audin, Livability director for education, said: “This proposed pay deal not only offers a substantial and immediate pay rise, with backdating elements but guarantees employees’ salaries will increase annually in line with nationally recognised pay scales.

"It is our hope that we can now reach a resolution with Unison and further strike action can be avoided to minimise disruption to the children, young people, and families we support.”