Posted 02.05.2021

Last week The Children’s Law Centre urged the Education Authority (EA) and the Department of Education to grasp the opportunity for meaningful improvements to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) process.

In a briefing to the NI Assembly Education Committee, by Rachel Hogan, the Children’s Law Centre SEND representative, a number of key areas were identified to ensure improvements are meaningful and achieves positive outcomes. This included the need for meaningful consultation with children, their parents and carers.

Other issues raised included the need to focus on early intervention and improve primary decision making, in the knowledge that over 97% of SEND Tribunal appeals achieve a successful outcome.

Ms Hogan said "disability discrimination was institutionalised" in the system and that not enough had been done to address concerns consistently raised over the years. Ms Hogan said:

The failings in the system have been largely operational, rather than caused by legal deficiencies. There is a robust legal framework around SEND – compliance is key. The EA and the Department must grasp this opportunity for improvement. It should be meaningful and must benefit those who are impacted by it – children.

Read more on Children's Law Centre briefing