Review of Special Educational Needs

(Every school is a good school)


It is difficult for anyone to fully understand all the facts about this review as the Department of Education for Northern Ireland have not given anyone the DETAIL to fully assess the consequences of the proposed changes.

It must also be stated that these changes are being pushed through by 2013 by the Education Minister for Northern Ireland. (John O’Dowd. SF)


The Education Department of Northern Ireland anticipate a 50% decrease of statement for children in main stream schools if these proposals get all parliamentary agreement in Stormount.

As a Charity we cannot lobby our MLA's or MP's Against these proposals but we have as parents.   


For further information please see the Children Commissioners' response and advice @






It is proposed that there be a move to a 2 level structure, replacing the 5 stage’s of the existing statementing process.



Level 1


 It is proposed that the child’s school will have a legal responsibility to identify ALL of your child’s difficulties and to make provision to meet all of your child’s needs.

Teachers in N.I. will be provided with professional training in how to interpret psychological and other testing with a view to using the results of these tests to help meet the needs of children.


This may mean the school will provide things such as:-

·         One to one teaching (for a time each week)

·         Time with a classroom assistant

·          a laptop

·         Specialist teaching

It is proposed that the school must “recognise”  if a child has special needs/ difficulties such as dyslexia, hearing difficulties, sight difficulties, whether they are Autistic , have ADHD, OCD or ODD for example.


The school will also have a duty to write a Personal Learning Plan (PLP which was called an IEP)  for the children they identify with special  needs which will set out what the child’s needs are and what extra help the child needs and what help the provision they make will produce for the child.


We have no information at this time how often PIP’s will be reviewed by the schools.


At level 1 the school will be able to access help from the education board for example :-extra training for teachers or some 1:1  help for the child.


It is also proposed that the statutory duties on Board of Governors would be strengthened to positively promote the achievement of high standards of identification, assessment and special educational needs provision across all schools.



Level 2


It is proposed that a child can only reach level 2 if the child’s school cannot provide for the child’s special educational needs. The education board will then have a duty to assess the needs of the child and make provision for them and put in place a Coordinated Support Plan (CSP).


It is proposed that the Education Department will not change the current definition of Special Educational Needs legislation , however, it is also proposed that a new definition will be drawn up by the Education Department for complex and or multiple needs which will be used by the Education Boards to determine the level of need that requires a CSP to be put in place.

·         CSP will have a greater emphasis on outcomes and targets for SEN children and on greater input by parents.

At this time we have NO information what will be in a CSP .


·         The time frame for Education boards to produce a CSP will be 20 weeks as opposed to the current 26 weeks for a statement of SEN..


CSP will generally apply to special educational needs children who are in special schools or learning support centres and to those in mainstream classes with the “greatest level of need” as defined by the new proposed legislative definition of complex and or multiple need’s. These needs will be determined by the “environment” the child require, and not necessary their disability.



Annual reviews


Annual reviews of CSP’s will be carried out by the school principal and parent on a yearly basis

A formal review by the Education Board will only take place if the school and or the parent’s feel that a review of provision is necessary.



Transition Arrangements from statements to CSP’s


·         Following introduction of the new legislation there will be a 2 year transitional period to FULL implementation.

·         During these 2 years the Education boards will undertake a Statutory Transitional Arrangement Review (STAR) of the needs of ALL children with a statement in Northern Ireland. If a child’s needs are deemed to be at a level 1 provision then the child will not be given a CSP.

·         Parents will be given the right to appeal this decision.

·         Children who attend special schools or learning support centres (special units) will automatically transfer to CSP provision.

·         Children with Statements in mainstream school’s who have 3 or less years of school left will be transferred to a CSP.



·         How does a parent get a school to recognise the child has difficulties?

  We have received No detail - No answer from Education Department on this question to date.


·         How does a school access Educational psychology support with 18 months waiting lists in some areas in Northern Ireland?

We have received No detail - No answer from Education Department on this question to date.


·         How does a school access speech & language, occupational therapy support when there are long waiting lists?

We have received No detail - No answer from Education Department on this question to date


·         What rights will a parent have if a school fails to recognise or make the appropriate provision to meet a child’s needs/difficulties?

It is proposed that Parents must first discuss the child’s needs/difficulties with the school, if the school fails to recognise the child’s need’s/difficulties and or fails to make provision then the parent must contact the school’s board of governors, if the parents is still not happy they must contact the Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Service (DARS) if agreement is not reached at the end of this stage then the parents can appeal to the special educational needs and disability  Tribunal. (SENDIST)



Stage 1. You must first Discuss your concerns with your child’s school


Stage 2.  You must discuss concerns with the schools board of Governors.


Stage  3. You must involve the Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Service (DARS)


Presently DARS staff are employed by the Department of Education. It may be that in future the role of DARS may be tendered out to other organisations.


And ONLY after you have completed stage 1, 2 & 3 can you refer your case to the special educational needs and disability Tribunal. (SENDIST)


·         At present stage 5 of a child’s statement includes the non educational needs of a child, will CSP’s still include a child’s non educational needs?

No, it is proposed that at level 1 the schools are only required to put emphasis on educational out comes.


 Health sector input will only be required if they make provision for a child. 


·         Is my child’s transport to school part of level 1 or on a CSP?

We can find NO information provided as part of this review in either level 1 or 2 CSP which mentions transport for children with special educational needs.


·         Will the Education Dept produce a new code of practice?

Yes we have been informed that the Dept will be producing a new code of practice.


·         Will the Education board be continuing with 14plus reviews?

We can see no mention of 14 plus reviews within the information provided by the Department of Education regarding level 1 or level 2.