SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has hosted an online Public Meeting on the issues facing parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs.
Mr McNulty said, ‘This week I hosted an online Public Meeting with a range of specialist guest speaks on the issue of Special Educational Needs. The meeting was hugely popular with over 100 people in attendance including parents and carers along with educational and health care professionals joining us from across Northern Ireland.
‘We heard from speakers Koulla Yiasouma the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children & Young People; Professor Siobhan O’Neill the Interim Mental Health Champion and Rachel Hogan from the Children’s Law Centre. They shared with us the experiences they are dealing with as professionals and they battles they are involved in on people’s behalf.’
‘The event was hugely popular and very informative. I was blown away and inspired by the strength of feeling everyone in attendance had, and, at the same time I was heartbroken to hear some of the real life experiences parents and carers with us.’
‘Parents and carers found the support and guidance from the experts exceptional and they gave many hope that there are those out there who are willing and wanting to guide and stand up for families who are facing the difficult challenges in relation to Special Educational Needs.’
‘We also had representatives from Dyslexia Awareness NI, Dyslexia & Dyspraxia Support, the National Autistic Society and the Special Educational Needs Advice Centre (SENAC) who joined in from the audience and their experiences and advice was extremely valuable.’
‘I found the event extremely useful and informative. Any parent will burst their gut to do whatever their son or daughter needs to help them to progress in life. But they shouldn’t have to fight and beg for what they are legally entitled to. Some boast that we have one of the best education systems in the world, but sadly many of the parents I speak to, and those who attended the event, articulate a very different view.’
‘Individual schools are great. Teachers, Teaching Assistants and Principals are great and equally frustrated. However, we need a better way of doing things, better way of supporting our young people and you their families. We need a streamlined, standardised and simplified systems. One that is adaptable, flexible and much more responsive to the needs of children and families.’
‘As a constituency MLA I am regularly contacted by families seeking support, assistance and guidance and I hope that this event will be the first in a series of events to help families who really are struggling to get help and guidance for their children.’