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Special Educational Needs in Northern Ireland

The law dealing with Special Education in Northern Ireland is contained in the The Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 as amended by The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Northern Ireland) Order 2005 (SENDO).

When a child is identified as having special educational needs in Northern Ireland the school work through the Code of Practice Five-stage approach to assessing, providing for, and reviewing those needs. Stages 1 to 3 are School-based stages, where the school provides for the special educational needs. Stages 1 and 2 would not involve any external agencies to the school however at Stage 3 the child can be receiving support from external specialists. Stages 4 and 5 would be for those children with more moderate to severe special education needs involving statutory assessment and a Statement of Special Educational Needs.

On 01 April 2015, the Education Authority became operational and took over all of the roles and responsibilities of the former Education and Library Boards (ELBs) in Northern Ireland. The information on the ELB websites is being maintained during the transition period and can be accessed via the links below.

The five Education and Library regions are:

EA Western Region (Western Education and Library Board)
EA South Eastern Region (Southern Education and Library Board)
EA Southern Region (Southern Education and Library Board)
EA Belfast Region (Belfast Education and Library Board)
EA North Eastern Region (North Eastern Education and Library Board)

There is currently a programme of change being implemented to manage the transition from five organisations with responsibility for delivery of education services to a single authority. In time, education policies will be delivered in the same way, regardless of the school your child attends or where you live in Northern Ireland. You can read more about the changes here.

The assessment and statementing process is described on the Department of Education website here. There is an SEN Tribunal in Northern Ireland. Read more about the tribunal here.

Useful link for parents on Advice, information and Advocacy: www.senac.co.uk

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