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(UK) NI: 'Unprecedented rise' in SPED students; 'demand has outstripped supply'

June 12, 2024, NI NewLetter: Education Minister Paul Givan: Entirely unacceptable that hundreds of SEN pupils still without school place for September

It is “entirely unacceptable” that hundreds of children with special educational needs (SEN) are still without a school place for September, Paul Givan has said.

The education minister told MLAs that significant progress had been made in allocating places for children with SEN, with the number without a school having reduced from more than 1,000 when he took office to 400.

Mr Givan said he was optimistic that from 2025 there would no longer be a situation where children are unplaced.

During an appearance at his Stormont scrutiny committee, the minister said an “end to end” review of SEN provision was nearing conclusion.

He said: “The position around placements for children with special educational needs for September of this year remains challenging.

“We have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of children requiring specialist provision in recent years.

“To date, planning has been on an emergency footing.

“Quite simply demand has outstripped supply. . . .

Mr Givan said he was determined to break the cycle of emergency planning. . . .

 “We expect the figures for the number of children to have a confirmed place to increase significantly next week as primary one and pre-school places continue to be confirmed.

“I had indicated when I took up post that there were around 1,000 children that didn’t have a place come September, that figure is now sitting at 400.

“We have made significant progress in reducing those numbers.”

The minister said his target was to ensure that every child with SEN had a place by September.


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