Educational Support Services

Information for schools and parents on continued access to essential services and who to contact for help.

Education Authority staff are working hard to ensure that essential education and support services continue to be provided and that children and young people are supported during this time.

You will find information here on which services are operating, how to access them and where to for help.

Special Educational Needs

During the period of school closure, EA SEN Pupil Support Services are continuing to provide remote advice and guidance, signposting and resources for the parents of children and young people with a range of special educational needs. Staff in EA Special Education Teams are working hard in exceptional circumstances progressing requests for Statutory Assessments so that Statements of Special Education Needs are issued or amended as soon as possible and that delays are kept to a minimum

Image: Special Education Needs

What support is available for children and young people with autism?

What support is available for children with literacy difficulties and dyslexia?

What support is available for children and young people with hearing impairment, visual impairment or multi-sensory impairment?

What support is available for children and young people with Moderate Learning Difficulties?

What support is available for children and young people with Down Syndrome and/or complex needs?

What support is available for children with language and communication difficulties?

What support is available for pre-school children with special educational needs?

What information is available for parents of children going through the Statutory Assessment process?

Parents can contact the SEN Helpline on 028 9598 5960, where staff will be able to assist with any queries relating to Statutory Assessment. The SEN Helpline is available from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays).

Does the Covid-19 pandemic mean changes to the duties of parents, schools, health and education authorities?

During the Covid-19 pandemic, duties in relation to Special Educational Needs have been modified in line with temporary legislation issued by the Department of Education. These modifications relate to the duties of the Education Authority (EA), schools, boards of governors, Health and Social Care Authority and parents.

The modified duty states that EA, schools boards of governors, HSC Authorities and parents should make their best endeavours to meet their original duty.

In relation to EA, the modification applies where it is difficult for EA to meet its original duties because of the temporary closures of schools, or where education or health staff have been relocated to meet other essential services due to coronavirus.

During the COVID 19 Pandemic, EA staff who work in Special Education are mainly working from home, in line with government advice. Special Education has had to consider how best to deliver critical services. This includes statutory assessments, arranging placements and provision for pupils with special educational needs. It also includes the issue of documents such as proposed statements, amendment notices and final or amended statements.

During this time, EA’s priority is to ensure that the provision of suitable school places are available for all pupils and that delays are kept to a minimum. 

Covid-19 means that communication will also change from visits to schools and paper documents issued via the postal system, to telephone calls and the issuing of documents by email. Steps have been taken to ensure that this is done safely and that personal information and privacy is protected.

Paper copies of correspondence and documents will be available to be sent out to parents, on request, when the EA staff are no longer required to work from home.

The Department of Education Notice in relation to the modification of duties can be viewed here: DE Temporary Modification Notice

For queries relating to Statutory Assessment, parents can contact the SEN Helpline on 028 9598 5960. The SEN Helpline is available from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays).

Independent Counselling Service for Schools (ICSS)

Counselling sessions will be provided for post primary aged pupils via telephone and secure online video calling at the same time and day the counsellor is usually in school. ‘Drop-Ins’ will be delivered via telephone at the same time and day as normally provided. Referrals from teachers, pupils and parents can be facilitated through the School Key Contact/Deputy Key Contact who will hold and manage the waiting list. Weekly School Counsellor and Key Contact meetings will continue via telephone. Further information is available on the EA website: -

Our Contact Details (9am - 5pm Monday - Friday):

Sheila Gamble - ICSS Contract Manager Tel: 028 7186 4785
Nicola Topping – Tel: 07917525327

ICSS – Information for Schools

What counselling support is available for post primary pupils?

The Independent Counselling Service for Schools (ICSS) provides counselling for post primary aged young people in mainstream and special schools.

Has the counselling service changed since the coronavirus outbreak?

Because of the recent COVID-19 restrictions, it is not possible to continue with normal service delivery. The Education Authority wants to ensure that the current counselling provision in post primary and special schools will continue and therefore measures have been put in place to ensure that young people continue to be supported.

Instead of face-to face counselling in school, counselling sessions will be provided for young people via telephone or secure online video calling. This will be provided at the same time and day as the School Counsellor would normally have been in the school.

Drop-Ins sessions will be provided for young people via telephone. School Counsellors will provide a telephone contact number for young people to contact them at the same time and day as the School Counsellor would normally have been in the school.

How can young people self-refer for counselling?

Referrals for counselling will be arranged via the School Key Contact as normal.
The Key Contact will hold the waiting list and liaise with the School Counsellor to arrange the counselling.
The Key Contact will provide the Counsellor with the young person’s relevant contact details (with permission from the young person). 

Can parents refer their post primary aged child for counselling?

Yes, if parents are concerned about their post primary aged child, they can refer him/her for counselling by contacting the School Key Contact.

If I have any queries about accessing the school counselling service who do I contact?

Your school will be able to answer any queries in relation to the school counselling service.

EA Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT)

The Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) will provide telephone advice, resources and support as required for Principals.

Further Information and resources are available on the EA website at:

Our Contact Details:

Principals should ring the EA Helpline (028 3751 2515) if they require support. This will be monitored during office hours and out of hours. Please leave a message and contact number and all calls will be returned.

I am a school Principal. How can I contact the EA Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT)?

Schools can contact the EA CIRT through the regional CIRT Helpline 028 3751 2515.

When is the CIRT Helpline available?

The CIRT Helpline is available during office hours and out of hours.
Principals are asked to leave a message and contact details on the voicemail facility. Phone calls will be returned in a timely manner.

What support is available from the CIRT if a school experiences a critical incident?

During the coronavirus outbreak the EA CIRT will provide critical incident management advice, support and resources via telephone only.

Exceptional Teaching Arrangements (ETA)

Pupils who are currently referred to the Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service (ETA) will continue to receive teaching support which will be facilitated via telephone contact and online learning. Parents and children will be advised of this and provided with advice on how to access this support.

Pupils who have no access to technology will receive learning packs to work on with the remote support of their teacher.

Resources have been provided to the children and young people supported by ETA.

Our Contact Details:
General Enquiries should be sent to Our emails are checked on a daily basis and a response provided.

N.B. There is no helpline telephone number but parents who are supported by ETA have access to local contacts should they require support to address issues or queries.

Is the Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service accepting new referrals?

Yes – The ETA panel meet monthly and referrals can be submitted via

What supports are being offered to current ETA pupils?

ETA teachers will be supporting their current pupils remotely via a number of methods which will include, google classroom, online sites and resources, email, video chat/conferencing, hard copies of education resource packs and telephone contact.

I am a parent, do I need to be present when my child is in contact with the ETA Teacher via telephone/video chat/google classroom?

Telephone contact will be maintained on a regular basis each week from the ETA teacher to each of their pupils and/or their parent/carer.
Parental/carer cooperation is needed during this process to ensure continued support for their child, so yes it would be helpful if a parent/carer was nearby when the ETA teacher is in contact.

My child is an ETA pupil. Can they access their school’s online resources/remote learning packs?

Where possible ETA staff will support your child in accessing their school resources, however parents/carers should contact the registered school if they are having difficulty accessing the school resources.

My child is an ETA pupil. What is happening with external examinations?

ETA would advise that you keep informed via the CCEA website for GCSE and the OCN website for Essential Skills.
Alternatively feel free to ask your ETA teacher who can help you find the information you require.

My child is a Year 12 ETA pupil. Should my child continue with their curriculum since there are no external exams?

Yes, in as far as possible.
Predicted Grades for external exams haven’t been made yet, so continued evidence of course completion may still be required.

Nurturing Approaches in Schools

The Nurturing Approaches in Schools Service (NASS) will continue to provide advisory support to schools at this time in relation to nurturing approaches and emotional health and wellbeing. 

What about pupils who had been receiving support in schools?

For pupils that would have accessed support in school, arrangements are also being established to facilitate staff from Primary BS&P to make consented contact for learning and implementation of particular aspects of the pupil’s support plan.

Who can I contact?

Our Contact Details:

The senior manager responsible for Nurturing Approaches in Schools Service is Andrea Kelly


Between Monday-Friday, 9.00-5.00

Primary Behaviour Support and Provisions Transition Resources

Last updated: 10/01/2022