SDLP Member of the Education Committee Justin McNulty MLA has said the rate of successful Special Educational Needs (SEN) appeals are a complete disgrace and urged Minister Weir to get a grip of the situation.
Mr McNulty was speaking after the Education Committee uncovered the fact that in 2018/2019, 97% of Special Educational Needs (SEN) appeals were successful. He said, ‘ I have been aware for quite some time that the SEN process in our schools needs to be overhauled as it is just not fit for purpose. However, I was still astounded to learn that in 2018/19 97% of SEN appeals had a successful outcome. This is a startling figure but what is most troubling is that behind the statistic are children and their families who have experienced terrible anguish in their battles for fairness in a system that is dysfunctional and broken.”
“Children with special educational needs and their families are being put through an dreadfully demanding, frustrating, and worrisome process, led by the Education Authority. Whilst frontline education staff who lack sufficient support are working their hardest in an effort to help, the reality is the system is flawed and is failing too many children day on day.”
“It is also very concerning that Minister for Education, Peter Weir appears not to have seen fit to act on these appalling figures. It is not that he is unaware of the concerns around SEN as I have raised these issues with the Minister repeatedly. His apparent lack of action is bizarre at best and at worst disgraceful. He must get a grip on this spiralling problem and urgently commission a root and branch review of Special Educational Needs provision.”
“These latest statistics are even more evidence, if it were ever needed, that we need an overhaul of how we support young people with Special Educational Needs and we must build a system that supports these children and their families.”