Committee brings report on post SEN provision to Assembly

Session: 2019/2020

Date: 01 March 2016

Reference: E&L 06/15/16

The Committee for Employment and Learning today has brought a far reaching report on post Special Educational Need (SEN) provision in education, employment and training for those with learning disabilities to the Assembly Chamber.

The report, which was two years in the making, contains 44 recommendations and involved a wide range of Government departments, and non Governmental agencies and bodies.

Chairperson of the Committee, Robin Swann MLA said: "Our Committee has spent a considerable amount of time investigating the issue of education, employment and training for those coming out of SEN provision. We undertook this inquiry to address concerns from advocates and families that once out of SEN education, there is very little help or options for next steps.

"This is a complex area of policy and one of our overreaching recommendations is that there must be better coordination across a number of Government Departments. The Committee's concerns focused on a number of particular areas of concern including the way the transition period after SEN education is managed, the way Further Education does or does not cater for those with learning disabilities and crucially, ensuring that people with learning disabilities can access transport to take advantage of educational and training opportunities."

The Report also looked at the possibility of bringing forward legislation if this would significantly improve the post school provision for those with learning difficulties. As well, the Committee examined options around increasing the Statement of Educational Need to age 25, as well as the use of social clauses to increase employment opportunities and the desirability of a Champion or Commissioner for those with learning disabilities.

Mr Swann commented: "We have found areas of excellent and innovative practice but we have also found that this good practice is not uniform across Northern Ireland. It is evident to us, and I know it was evident to all the Members in the Assembly in our debate, that this is an issue which needs to be addressed in a coordinated way. We cannot continue to fail a large number of people who wish to further their education and employment and who have so much to give to our society.

"We urge the Executive and Government Departments to act and act now."

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