‘Children with no school places need certainty’ - Derry MLA

Sinn Féin MLA Pádraig Delargy has called on the Education Minister and the Education Authority to ensure children with special educational needs and their families have certainty over school places for September.

The Foyle MLA said: “Reports that 300 children with special educational needs are without a school place for September are deeply concerning. Given the yearly increase in the number of children with special educational needs, the education minister should have prepared and planned for this eventuality.

“These children and their families need certainty on what arrangements will be in place come September, and I would urge the education minister and the Education Authority to work to address this issue. This is why we need an Executive up and running and Ministers in place so that we can invest in education services and ensure young people get the support that they need.

“The DUP needs to end its boycott and join with the rest of us who want to make politics work and deliver first class public services.”

Foyle MLA Padraig Delargy.

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen meanwhile said she has has approved a number of Specialist Provisions in Mainstream Schools as part of a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Area Planning pilot exercise. The pilot includes the simultaneous provision of 128 Specialist Provisions across 58 schools.

“The educational interests and wellbeing of our most vulnerable pupils are a priority for me,” she said.

“I have approved these specialist provisions in mainstream schools to help ensure that pupils with SEN receive a high quality of education; the opportunity to achieve their full potential through the best educational experiences possible; equality of opportunity; and access to pathways that meet their needs.

“My Department is working to make Area Planning processes more efficient and agile. This pilot is another step forward in ensuring that our Area Planning is fit for purpose and delivers the best possible outcomes for children and young people.

“I offer my thanks to all those involved in the pilot, including our pupils and their families, schools and the Education Authority and look forward to continued partnership and collaboration.”