June 27, 2017, The Irish News (Northern Ireland): Annual spending on special educational needs tops £250 million http://www.irishnews.com/news/2017/06/27/news/annual-spending-on-special-educational-needs-tops-250-million-1067379/ RAPIDLY increasing numbers of children with special educational needs is causing spending to spiral, a new audit report has found. Annual expenditure on SEN [Special Education Needs] is now higher than £250 million, placing greater pressure on the system. … The Special Educational Needs and Disability Order places a duty on the Education Authority (EA) to ensure children can be educated in the mainstream. … In 2016/17. about 76,300 schoolchildren had SEN, with or without a statement, up from 67,000 five years ago. The Department of Education's own code of practice anticipates that only about two per cent of the school population should require a statement. In 2016/17, five per cent of children had a statement. This equates to more than 17,000 children, an increase of 21 per cent since 2011/12. The report found that spending exceeded £250m last year, of which £217m was EA expenditure - up from £167m in 2011/12. Mr Donnelly reported that the department said given the rising numbers of children with SEN, "this is a challenge for the department, the EA and schools, in terms of increasing pressure on the education budget". … "My report shows that the number of children with special educational needs and the associated costs are continuing to rise. In 2016/17, just over 76,300 children were reported. That is 22 per cent of the school population and higher than in England.