Policy Forum for Northern Ireland

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Priorities for SEN provision in NI - review outcomes | service provision, quality and outcomes | inspection and regulation | workforce priorities | learning from best practice and other jurisdictions

December 2023

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference examined next steps for SEN provision in Northern Ireland.

It took place following the publication of the Independent Review of Special Education Needs final report, commissioned by the Department of Education, which suggested that major reform is needed within Northern Ireland’s SEN system, and identified significant challenges for delivering early support due to pressures within the system.

Key stakeholders and policymakers discussed priorities for improving service provision and educational outcomes, models for referral, and how the Education Authority’s area planning might be enhanced to improve access to services and sustainability.

Further sessions looked at the Department of Education’s End-to-End Review of SEN Services, that was due in December 2023, which will have looked to create a pathway for improving service provision in Northern Ireland.

The conference was also an opportunity to discuss next steps following the wide-ranging Independent Review of Education in Northern Ireland interim report, which identified SEN provision as a key focus area going into the final report stage expected by the end of the year.

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with: Janis Scallon, Director of Inclusion, Department of Education; Shauna Collinson, Interim Assistant Director of SEND Statutory Services, Education Authority; Amanda Hatton, Executive Director, Education and Children’s Services, The City of Edinburgh Council; and Christine Kearney, Director of Development, Autism NI;

Overall, areas for discussion included:

  • policy priorities: assessing findings from the Independent Review of SEN - implementation of recommendations - funding priorities - managing increased demand for SEN services
  • SEN provision in NI: improving area planning and access to services - adopting a child-centred approach - addressing unmet needs within the system
  • workforce: addressing staff shortages, including within Educational Psychology Services - priorities for staff training and workforce development - CPD and developing SEN Support Hubs
  • improving educational outcomes: providing effective pathways to FE and employment
  • accountability: priorities for service quality and inspection - implications for regulation post-review of SEN and Education
  • learning from best practice: considering lessons from other jurisdictions in creating an inclusive model of SEN provision in Northern Ireland

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from the Department for the Economy; Department of Education; Department of Finance; and NAO.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materialfs, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda