The Education Authority (EA) began the Strategic Review of Nursery Provision in Special Schools in October 2016. A new framework was to be introduced from September 2017. However, due to the March election, the necessary public consultation could not proceed as planned.
EA Chief Executive, Gavin Boyd explained;
“The engagement phase of the review involving targeted engagement with key stakeholders was successfully completed as planned. However, we were unable to proceed further because pre-election guidance states that public consultations on significant policy proposals could not be launched in the period before an election.
There is not sufficient time now to obtain Board approval, complete an eight week consultation, review responses, and prepare for implementation in line with the original timeframe. Therefore, the consultation is likely to commence in September 2017 and interim arrangements are required.”
Dr Clare Mangan, EA’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services provided details of the interim arrangements;
“The EA Board recently agreed a number of interim arrangements to ensure that there is appropriate provision for pre-school children who require a place in a special school in September 2017.
Placement in special schools is influenced by the number of children with special needs, the complexity of those needs and the accommodation available in the schools. For those schools who operated interim arrangements last year, there will be no change in September 2017.
Rossmar School in Limavady has indicated that adjustments are required to meet local demand and will operate a dual day from September 2017.
Additional nursery provision will be created in Longstone School, Dundonald for the first time. A list of all special schools and what provision they currently offer is available below.
Our aim is to ensure that every pre-school child who needs a special school place in 2017/18 can access one.”
A number of additional measures have also been implemented to improve the process for placing pre-school children in special schools and to ensure greater clarity for parents:
- Parents will be notified of allocation of places from 27 May 2017 onwards.
- By late May, special schools will have their initial pupil allocation which will enable them to engage with parents to help plan for September 2017.
- For children who are not yet in their pre-school year, but who could benefit from early intervention and support, they will have access to EA Early Years Special Educational Needs (SEN) support services, as well as other identified support.
- EA’s pre-school teaching service, and other early years SEN support services will provide earlier intervention for children with identified significant SEN, and their families.