Commissioner Concerned Over Special Educational Needs Proposals

7 March 2012 News

COMMISSIONER for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, is seeking a meeting with Education Minister, John O’Dowd, to discuss her concerns about his updated proposals to change Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision.

Ms Lewsley-Mooney has welcomed the publication by the Minister of a ‘Summary Report’ of responses to the 2009/10 consultation on the SEN and Inclusion proposals, in which the Minister outlines his key proposals for moving the Review forward.

However, she has reviewed the key proposals in the ‘Summary Report’, along with additional information from the Department of Education and has a range of concerns on each of the seven areas in the proposals.

Ms Lewsley-Mooney said her advice paper asks for more information on the proposals where there appears to be insufficient detail.

“While I welcome publication of proposals in the summary report,” said the Commissioner, “it is two years since the formal consultation took place and I hope that the Minister will now act to allay concerns over the review.”

Ms Lewsley-Mooney said she has several areas of concern in relation to the proposals, and has produced an advice paper for the Minister highlighting key issues of concern with regard to children with special educational needs.

“My key message to the Minister is that he must continue to engage with all those who will be affected. To date I do not believe that the concerns expressed by parents and others have not been sufficiently acted upon.

“If the Minister is to provide reassurance to all stakeholders there needs to be more detail on how the revised SEN framework will work in practice”.

The Commissioner said she has submitted an extensive analysis of the Minister’s proposals.

“Key issues I have identified include: the impact of the proposed changes on children and young people in mainstream schools; potential challenges facing schools arising from an enhancement of their role in implementing the SEN framework; and the apparent lack of progress in realising the participation rights of children and young people with special educational needs”.