The Department of Education launched a review of Special Education in Northern Ireland inApril 2006, which is partially due to the fact that some twenty two million pounds isexpended on special needs annually.
Policy Proposals to emerge from the review are
contained in a consultation document „
Every School a Good School: The Way Forward for
Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.‟
The consultation period was extended untilJanuary 2010, due to mounting fear and anxiety in relation to the policy proposals, whichhave generated an unprecedented level of response (estimated to be around 3000 responsebooklets). The Department of Education (DE) claims that the
provide for an inclusive framework that is aimed at raising standards for all children andyoung people who face barriers to learn
However the Children‟
s Law Centre (CLC)dispute tha
„One size fits all approach‟
will work in practice, but will potentially erode
educational rights unless there is absolute clarity around enforceable rights at distinct stages of theprocess with clear routes for access to resources for each of the relevant groups.
„TheDepartment‟ contend that the creation of a new workforce directorate, will afford greater
focus to the most important delivery of education: teachers, and building their capacity toidentify barriers to learning and put in place appropriate and effective interventions as earlyas possible, they hope to make it possible to recognise new partnerships between teachers,others in schools and close working relationships with other professionals. However inreality these proposals could potentially leave teachers exposed to challenge from parents andexternal agencies if their efforts fail. Mary Dorman
a Special Educational Needs Teacher,(SENCO) contends that teachers work within a competitive system. They have to competefor everything, but the consultation document seeks collaborative working. The two systemswill not go together.
“You cannot collaborate effectively in a competitive system.”
For the purposes of research, interviews were conducted with three SENCOs, whorepresented schools across the secular spectrum, (a Catholic Maintained primary school, aControlled primary school and an integrated primary school). The findings were no less thanfrightening; none of the schools had replied to the consultation, two out of the three schoolswere not aware that any changes were being made to the current system, in other words that aconsultation was taking place. All three teachers found the terminology used in the documentconfusing to the point that they were unable to decipher what some of terms meant which iscritically important in order to comprehend the extent of changes to the system the documentproposed to make. Thus, although they were able to comment extensively upon the currentsystem of statutory statementing, they found it difficult to contribute an informed opinionconcerning the proposed changes. It is evident that inadequate efforts were put in place to
Special Educational Needs and Inclusion Review, NI Assembly Debate, 25
of January 2010.(http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ni/?id=2010-01-25.6.19) accessed 23/03/2010.
Ms. Irene Murphy (Department of Education), oral response, NI Assembly,
‘Discussion on the Department of Education’s Policy Proposals on Special Educational Needs, (20
of January 2010).
AEN (Additional Educational need) is
the Department’s attempt to integrate children wi
th SEN and childrenwith a disability, under one over reaching concept. This attempt has sparked fears that statutory protectionand available resources will be diluted for children in either category.
Children’s Law Centre –
Response to the Departmen
t of Education’s Consultation on
“Every School a Good
The Way forward for special Educational Needs and Inclusion.”
(November 2009) Point 3.
who attended the “Discussion on the Department of Education’s Policy Proposals on
ial Educational Needs,” (20