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(UK) NI: SPED funding to be "cut in half"

June 5, 2023, NI BBC: Schools' funding for special needs teachers cut in half
Funding for dedicated school staff to support pupils with special educational needs (SEN) in Northern Ireland has been cut in half.
Each school has to appoint a teacher as a special educational needs coordinator.
But the overall funding to schools for that role has been reduced from £22m [$27M] last year to £11m [$14M] in 2023-24.

It is the latest cut to be made by Stormont's Department of Education in an attempt to make savings.

The department has already stopped a number of schemes to save money, including the school holiday food grant for children entitled to free school meals.

That came after funding for education was reduced in the 2023-24 Stormont budget….

They support and help SEN children with their learning and monitor their progress, and that can involve extra pastoral and administrative responsibilities.

More than 66,000 pupils in Northern Ireland have some form of SEN - just under one in five of the school population.

More than 24,000 have a statement of SEN, a legal document which details the level and type of support they should receive in school.

The way pupils with SEN are supported in Northern Ireland is changing and that could mean extra responsibility for special needs coordinators in schools.

For instance, they will be expected to complete and regularly review a personal learning plan for each child with SEN in conjunction with class teachers and parents.

The department gives each school some money to enable the coordinator to take time out from teaching a class in order to do the other duties their role requires.

However the cut in money in the next year will mean schools have less money to provide substitute cover for their coordinator to give them time of class for their role….

But it also said that "given the challenging financial situation" they were pleased that some funding had continued.

A recently published major review into support for children with special educational needs in Northern Ireland identified a number of shortcomings in how that support was provided.

The system is "not perceived to be an efficient way of supporting children", said the review commissioned by the Department of Education.

The Education Authority, which is responsible for running education services in Northern Ireland, said it was facing a funding shortfall of £382m [$475M] in this financial year.

It said it was concerned that the shortfall would have "an enduring and detrimental impact... on our children and young people, particularly the most vulnerable".


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