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(UK) Belfast: DofE "may not be able to retain existing [SPED] services"

Dec 11, 2022, Belfast Live: Belfast parents meet EA over concerns around SEN provisions

Parents outlined several issues including delays in autism diagnosis and statements Families met with the Education Authority this week to outline concerns they have surrounding Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision.

The Colin Autism Support Group attending a meeting on Tuesday in Belfast City Centre, alongside People Before Profit Councillor Michael Collins and Gerry Carroll MLA.

They outlined "several concerns" including delays in autism diagnosis and statements, a lack of special school places, and the cap on educational psychologist referrals. …

"Officials hope to improve services through a new SEN transformation programme, but we have stressed that services cannot simply be reduced and repackaged. The Department of Education has warned that it may not be able to retain existing services in the face of Tory budget cuts.

"Neurodiverse young people are already being let down, but this situation will only worsen if the government does not ensure adequate funding to support them on their educational journey."

A spokesperson for the Education Authority (EA) told Belfast Live: "The Education Authority has been working closely with the Department of Education to assess the implications of the 2022-23 budget announcement. Whilst we welcome additional funding as part of the budget settlement, an EA funding gap for 2022/23 remains, with a potentially adverse impact on our schools and front-line services, including but not limited to Special Educational Need.

"These serious funding challenges facing education this year follow ten years of under investment in education and ever-increasing demand (i.e. increasing pupil numbers, proportionately the largest school population, and the lowest education spend per pupil in the UK …

LR: People Before Profit Councillor Michael Collins, Louise Sadlier and Naomi McKenna from Colin Autism Support Group, and Gerry Carroll MLA

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