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(UK) NI: SPED failing children; 'department has seen a significant increase'

Feb 26, 2024, (UK)  NI Derry Now: Children in special education ‘failed’ by lack of funding and staff – parent https://www.derrynow.com/news/northern-ireland/1433281/children-in-special-education-failed-by-lack-of-funding-and-staff-parent.html
Children in special education in Northern Ireland are being failed due to lack of funding and staff, the mother of a child in the sector has said.
The comments came as scores of parents of children in special education took part in a protest at Parliament Buildings in Belfast calling for better pay for school workers. . . .

The parents were met by a number of MLAs including Kate Nicholl and Nick Mathison from the Alliance Party and Gerry Carroll from People Before Profit.


MLAs later debated a motion brought by four Alliance MLAs calling for the Assembly to commit to prioritise the needs of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).


The sector has been hit by industrial action as staff call for better pay and a grading review.


The parents are calling for the Department of Education to allocate the funding for the workers to end the action.


Deborah Maguire from Belfast has a seven-year-old child with autism, ADHD and severe learning difficulties who is non-verbal.


“At the minute it is so under-funded, there are not enough staff to actually give the support and give the help, and these children are being failed every single day in their education,” she told the PA news agency.


“The schools are on their knees trying to support these children but unfortunately the funding is not there. . . .


 “These children are being failed every day, these families are being failed every day.”


Education Minister Paul Givan met with trade unions about the industrial action over pay and grading for support staff and pledged to bid for “additional funding” to “enable the recommendations from the pay and grading review to be implemented”.


On Monday, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “The minister has set out his priority to transform the existing special educational needs system in Northern Ireland.


“The department has seen a significant increase in the number of children with a statement of special education needs (SEN) and in the demand for specialist education provision.

 “As a result, special schools are operating at over-capacity and there is a need for more specialist provision in our mainstream schools.


“The situation is challenging for September 2024 – the immediate priority is to create more capacity in special schools and to establish more specialist provisions in mainstream schools to ensure sufficient places.


“In accordance with the education authority’s planning assumptions from January 2024, it is estimated that 1,067 additional specialist education places are needed for September.


 “The education authority has recently written to all schools seeking their support in the creation of new specialist provision classes to alleviate pressures.

“We are seeing a changing profile in our children and young people and it is vital that our system supports this.”


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