Cuts will have detrimental effect on pupils with special educational needs, says Egan

Department of Education cuts to support staff will have a detrimental effect on pupils with special educational needs (SEN), Alliance Education spokesperson Connie Egan MLA has said.

Education Connie Egan Special Educational Needs

She was speaking after it was announced funding for the role of a SEN co-ordinator, who has overall responsibility for SEN pupils in each school, has been halved, with the budget being reduced from £22 million to £11 million for the forthcoming academic year.

“SEN co-ordinators play a vital role in ensuring children with SEN in mainstream schools receive the appropriate support needed to fully engage with the education system,” said Ms Egan.

“Only last week, the Ipsos Independent Review of Special Educational Needs Service and Processes in Northern Ireland recommended SEN co-ordinators need more resources for training, time to carry out their duties and increased renumeration for the important role they play. Therefore it is astounding funding for the role has now been cut in half, as it will have a detrimental effect on pupils with SEN.

“In my role as Alliance Education spokesperson, I have continually made the case against funding cuts from the Department of Education, as they will impact on our most vulnerable children and young people.

“The Department needs to urgently clarify not only on what basis these cuts have been made but how it can fulfil its statutory duties regarding SEN pupils while making these cuts. The Department Permanent Secretary recently U-turned on a number of proposed cuts due to the devastating impact they would have. He should do the same in this instance and help those who need it the most.”