Committee calls on Minister to review Proposals for Special Education

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 18 February 2010

Reference: EDU 05/09/10

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Education has strongly recommended that the Minister for Education, Caitríona Ruane MLA urgently review the Department of Education’s policy proposals for Special Education Needs (SEN) and Inclusion. The call has come in light of numerous and serious concerns raised by parents and other stakeholders.

Committee Chairperson Mervyn Storey MLA said: “The Education Committee has highlighted significant concerns in its formal response to the Department’s consultation on its SEN proposals.

“The high level nature of the proposals has led the Committee to conclude that it is difficult for parents and other stakeholders to comment on the Department’s ‘proposed direction of travel’ without greater clarity about the destination – the practical implications of the policy proposals.

“The Committee has also raised concerns arising from the proposals on lines of responsibility for new multidisciplinary groups representing health, education and social care; additional work for already ‘overstretched’ teachers; the future role of special schools and whether SEN funding going directly to schools will be ring fenced.

“The Committee called for an extension of the original consultation period and welcomed the Minister’s decision to extend it, not once but twice. We hope that this indicates a willingness to address the genuine concerns of parents and other stakeholders and await a constructive response from the Minister to these concerns.”

The Committee for Education has received an unprecedented level of lobbying regarding the Consultation proposals, leading to a SEN event in Parliament Buildings on 20 January 2010. The event was organised to provide a platform for parents and interested stakeholders to raise their concerns directly with Department of Education officials.

A full copy of the Committee’s response to the Department of Education and a transcript of the Committee’s SEN event and associated papers can be found on the Committee website: http://archive.niassembly.gov.uk/education/2007mandate/educationhome_07.htm

ENDS

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