Cuts to special education nursery places would disadvantage the most vulnerable, warns Egan, echoing calls for SEN reform

Alliance Education spokesperson Connie Egan MLA was speaking following her attendance at a demonstration today (Wednesday 21 June), alongside party colleagues, protesting for reform to special educational needs (SEN) services after reports emerged of potential cuts to funding for nursery units for children with SEN.

Education Connie Egan Special Educational Needs

Due to a funding shortfall, it is reported that the Educational Authority (EA) is considering closing some nursery units in special schools. It is believed that the EA is considering the move to accommodate primary one pupils with special educational needs after a sharp increase in the number of pupils needing places in special schools.


The North Down MLA stated: "I am appalled by reports that the EA is considering closing a number of nursery units in schools for children with special educational needs. When parents are already having to fight so hard just to secure what is a fundamental right for their children – the right to an education – this is a devastating blow.


“The projected increase in children with a statement of special educational needs is widely known; I think this retrograde move by the EA is short-sighted and demonstrates a clear failure in area planning on their part.


"The early years of a child's life are exceptionally important. We know that proper investment in our children from birth to 4 years results in improved health, educational, economic, and social outcomes for children. All children deserve the best start in life and this is no different for children with special educational needs.


"It’s unacceptable that children with SEN could be collateral damage in the ongoing political stalemate, and will be paying the price for budget uncertainty and a lack of leadership in the Assembly. It’s simply shameful that the children most in need of support are being put in this position, and that their parents, instead of being given support, are having to fight every obstacle that is put in their way.


"The EA, along with the Department of Education, need to make a commitment to fully resourcing and funding special education services across Northern Ireland as a matter of utmost priority. It’s the least these children and their families deserve."