(UK) NI: "Damning" report; need for "more services/more support/more training"

Oct 1, 2020, Belfast Newsletter: NI failing children with special educational needs, says mother A Northern Ireland mother has told how her daughter lost a whole year of school waiting for a special needs statement to come through. This week a damning Audit Office report found the time limit to issue a statement - a legally binding document which lays out a child's needs - was broken in 85% of cases here. The statutory limit is 26 weeks - but Liane Wilson and her daughter Kayla, who has autism, waited twice as long. Ms Wilson said: "The whole of P5 she couldn't attend school because they said without a statement they couldn't get her support. Why it should take so long baffled me. "Often it's copy pasted, and that's been proved by parents who've sat down with their statements, there's been many incidents where they've copied and pasted the wrong name. She was being denied an education - but yet it's supposed to be illegal." Kayla described her first years of primary school without any support as like "sitting in a foreign classroom", her mum said. Ms Wilson said there needs to be more services and more support - and more training. She added: "It's overdue by a decade and it needs to start from the ground up, from health visitors to GPs to schools. Everyone who touches a child should know, they should be trained to see and notice [signs of autism]. "I thought when she was diagnosed, that's when life would be made easier for her. "I didn't think then that's when I could have to start fighting for everything." The Audit Office report, published on Tuesday, called for an "urgent review and overhaul" of how the Education Authority (EA) provides support for children with SEN. It questioned if the EA's procedures for pupils with SEN were fit for purpose. Its report is the second in three years, and follows an internal review by the EA in February…. A spokesperson for the Department of Education said they welcomed the review, adding: "The Department is working closely with the EA on addressing the issues in the report." Yesterday Education Minister Peter Weir announced that a public consultation has opened into SEN provision in Northern Ireland. He also pledged funding of £7.5m [$10M U.S.] to deliver a new SEN framework which will provide additional resources for schools….