Bradley concerned over Minister’s Special Needs proposals
SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley has said that there is huge anxiety among parents and teachers of children with special educational needs about the Minister of Education’s plans to change SEN provision. Commenting on John O’Dowd’s recent utterances on proposed changes to special needs provision Mr Bradley said, “An unprecedented number of parents and advocacy groups opposed the proposals contained in the Department of Education’s ‘Every School a Good School – The Way Forward for Special Educational Needs”.
Bradley continued, “Many parents are concerned that children who have statements of special educational needs and the statutory rights which go along with the statement may not have the same rights under the Minister’s proposals. It is far from clear as yet what rights will be conferred by the proposed replacements, (Co-ordinated Support Plans – CSPs) of the current Statements. Many teachers and their professional representatives are worried that the Minister’s proposals will place a huge responsibility on schools to deliver early identification and interventions, with possible legal implications, without the required level of expertise.”
“The aim of reform should be to provide children with expert professional diagnosis and effective intervention in the form of adequate support in the classroom as early as possible in their school lives. Many people fear that these proposals will have the opposite effect and will delay expert diagnosis rather than accelerate it thus recreating the bureaucratic delays inherent in the present system. Parents are also concerned about the planned resourcing of special needs education with funding being delegated to schools without ring fencing. There is concern also that individual children could loose out under this system with resources drifting to meet other pressures on schools’ budgets especially in the present financial climate in schools,” he added.
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