Lack of Assembly impacting SEN provision, says Mathison

The lack of a functioning Assembly in Northern Ireland is having a negative impact on children with Special Educational Needs, Alliance Education Spokesperson Nick Mathison has said, as representatives from the sector gave evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Education Nick Mathison

Describing it as “a tough listen”, Nick said that it’s clear the sector is now at breaking point after years of Department and EA inaction, compounded by the DUP’s refusal to return to Stormont.

He added: “Alliance has argued for many years for the need for investment and reform of how we deliver access to education for children with Special Educational Needs. We haven’t stopped engaging and listen to those most impacted and it was frustrating to hear those concerns so clearly laid bare today, brought to the NIAC as MLAs remain blocked from any return to Stormont.

“The need for investment and reform has never been more pressing as we see the numbers of children with additional needs rising significantly, with an over-burdened, out of date system struggling to deliver for parents, carers and children. Parents are frustrated by the on-going failure to act on previous reviews.

“It is unacceptable that parents of children with additional needs have to fight for access to every service their child needs and is entitled to. That’s why I, supported by my Alliance colleagues, continue to engage with the Department around their review of the SEN system, arguing strongly for a system that places the needs of the child at the heart of it all. That’s why it is crucial the Department’s current review must be urgently prioritised and an action plan delivered.

“Our system is broken. SEN children are suffering and all the while the DUP continue to place more emphasis on their own party politics, rather than supporting a restored Executive, collectively lobbying for the funding we need to deliver equality of access to education for SEN pupils.

“It is high time the DUP ended their boycott and prioritised the needs of our children and young people over their ongoing protest over the Windsor Framework."