SDLP Education Spokesperson Colin McGrath MLA has said that the findings of an Audit Office report into Special Educational Needs provision raises serious concerns and must be acted upon.
“It is a matter of deep concern that the Audit Office concluded that neither the Department of Education nor the Education Authority were able to demonstrate value for money in SEN provision. The support provided to children with SEN statements is invaluable to their development so it comes as a surprise that there has been no effective mechanism for evaluating that support.
“The ongoing delays in providing a statement for children with Special Educational Needs is also deeply worrying. All the available evidence shows that interventions work best and have the most enduring results the earlier they happen in a child’s educational journey. Delays of months or years in providing a statement have a detrimental impact on the educational experience of children and on their families.
“This report must be acted upon immediately. The Department needs to develop a new evaluation process which includes children receiving support. And clearly there needs to be a better system of cooperation between the Education Authority and Health trusts to minimise the delays in assessing children for specific support.
“We need political institutions up and running to drive that process forward. All minds should be focussed in the days ahead.”
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