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(UK) NI: Parents protest over "lack of school places for SEN children"

June 15, 2024, Belfast Live :  Protest held at Education Authority over lack of school places for SEN children

A group of NI mums have staged a protest outside the Education Authority offices as they say their SEN children have been left without a school place for next year.

In April of this year Education Minister Paul Givan said the education system is struggling to keep pace with the increase in demand for school places for children with special educational needs.

The Education Minister told MLAs that the position in 2024 is “extremely challenging” with more than 1,000 additional SEN places in schools needing to be found in Northern Ireland by September.

While the majority of those children with SEN have found places, some still have not and a number of families gathered ahead of a meeting with the Education Authority, which distributes the places, on Friday.

Tammy Norwood’s daughter Nova has severe learning difficulties, and being left without a school place leaves her in danger of regression.

“Nova was diagnosed with severe learning difficulties and last year she was meant to go to a special needs nursery and eventually she didn’t get a school,” Tammy said.

“I eventually had to reach out to Solas on the Ormeau Road who were amazing with her. It came to that time again this year and I was promised that it wouldn’t be the same again, not to worry. I was told a week ago that there still is no place for her with all of our chosen schools now filled up.

“I just don’t feel it’s fair that on paper they can say she has all of these learning difficulties but not to have anywhere to put her for school. They said they couldn’t tell me whether they wouldn’t definitely be able to find a place for her by September. We just have to wait and hope and that a miracle will happen for her. Otherwise she is going to regress and regress.”


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