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(UK) NI: Special needs kids denied secondary school places; mothers 'exhausted'

June 23, 2021, NI Belfast Telegraph: Northern Ireland’s broken post-primary transfer system must be transformed, says SDLP’s McCrossan

Northern Ireland’s broken post-primary transfer system must be an immediate priority for new Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, the SDLP has said. But that it is just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to “full scale transformation” of the education system, Daniel McCrossan MLA added. The West Tyrone MLA met the new minister along with party colleague and Education Committee member Justin McNulty MLA. The SDLP representatives raised the need for broad reform of Northern Ireland’s education system to meet the changing needs of students, parents and a modern economy…. “The last week has shown that the system is badly broken, leaving too many children with no post-primary school place and feeling like they aren’t valued or wanted by any school,” he said. “While the minister and I differ substantially on the future of academic selection, no one can seriously say that the system is working. “But what we need is full scale transformation. Every day I am approached by parents, teachers and principals with very serious concerns about how are education system operates. “From mothers who are exhausted after years of fighting to get their child a statement of special educational needs to principals worried about the resource available for their students. The challenges are systemic and the solutions must reflect that.” Mr McCrossan said the SDLP has now launched a new survey of parents to hear their experiences of education during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Children have missed out on a substantial period of learning, that will only increase the pressure on a system which is already under immense strain,” he said. “We need a strategic plan to address the period of missed learning, bring our kids up to speed and address the failings of the system. The SDLP will lead those efforts by consulting widely and bringing forward our proposals for change.” The Department of Education has been contacted for comment.


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