A public consultation has been launched on the provision of education for children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN).
Education Minister Peter Weir has also announced funding of £7.5million to deliver a new SEN framework which will provide additional resources for schools.
Launching the consultation during a visit to Tullygally Primary School in Craigavon, Mr Weir said: “Children and young people with special educational needs are among the most vulnerable in our society.
“I am determined to improve the current system of special educational provision and support pupils with SEN to meet their full potential. I want to ensure that parents and children have access to an effective system that is accountable and meets their needs in a more straightforward and responsive way.”
— Education NI (@Education_NI) September 30, 2020
Proposed changes to the current system will include a defined period in which assessments must be carried out and decisions implemented.
Children and parents will also have new rights that will ensure services meet their needs.
The Education Authority will be required to publish an annual plan of arrangements for SEN provision and each child with SEN will be required to have a Personal Learning Plan (PLP).
The Minister added: “I encourage all those with an interest in this important area to provide their views and contribute to the consultation. I reiterate my thanks to all those who have played a role in helping the Department to develop aspects of the new SEN Framework.
“Today’s announcement is a significant investment to support SEN identification and provision.
“Support for pupils with SEN is a vital and valued service, and it is important to ensure that this support is sustainable and can produce lasting outcomes for our pupils.
“Schools are under pressure and I acknowledge that implementation of a new SEN Framework will have an additional resourcing impact for schools.
“In recognition of this, I am therefore announcing a further £7.5m to be made available to schools for the 2020/21 year for the period January to March 2021.”
The consultation, which includes new draft Regulations and Code of Practice, will provide more detail on rights for parents and children and will provide schools with clear and practical guidance on identifying and supporting children with SEN.
The 12 week public consultation is open until 22 December and is available to access on the department’s website: www.education-ni.gov.uk/