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O’Dowd re-assures parents on plans for special education provision

1 February, 2012 - by John O'Dowd

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has responded to headlines that the statementing process for children with special educational needs will be scrapped.

Mr O’Dowd said: “Children with special educational needs are among the most vulnerable in our education system. Much good work has been done in recent years to meet the needs of such children in mainstream schools and special schools.

“To provide schools, parents, and most importantly the children themselves with a system that is fit for purpose, I am moving to simplify and speed up the process of meeting the needs of the child.

“I was shocked to hear reports this morning suggesting that the statementing process was to be scrapped. Headlines like these will only raise fears among parents about the future provision for their children.

“I want to re-assure parents that statutory support for their children will not be scrapped. Instead, my proposals will see Co-ordinated Support Plans (CSPs) put in place to support those children with a special educational need. CSPs will reduce the length of time a child has to wait to receive support and will have a clear focus on improving educational outcomes and expectations.

“The present system is heavily bureaucratic and sees too much effort invested in feeding the system as opposed to supporting children. This has to change.

“I want to ensure schools are better equipped to deal with the needs of SEN pupils and that, where additional support is required, it can be provided without having to go through the current, protracted statutory assessment process.

“I am committed to dealing with the shortcomings, delays and inconsistencies in provision evident in the current system. I am in the business of improving the support we provide to children with a special educational need – not scrapping the support already in place.”

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