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.
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
What support is available for children and young people with hearing impairment, visual impairment or multi-sensory impairment?
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).
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
The Independent Counselling Service for Schools (ICSS) provides counselling for post primary aged young people in mainstream and special schools.
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.
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).
Yes, if parents are concerned about their post primary aged child, they can refer him/her for counselling by contacting the School Key Contact.
Your school will be able to answer any queries in relation to the school counselling service.
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.
Schools can contact the EA CIRT through the regional CIRT Helpline 028 3751 2515.
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.
During the coronavirus outbreak the EA CIRT will provide critical incident management advice, support and resources via telephone only.
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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Teachers may be engaged in online teaching which they can use as evidence for their induction action plan or EPD professional development activity at the discretion of the teacher tutor. Teachers can also be observed online either live or through recordings and discussions with the Teacher Tutor. Teachers who are not online teaching can engage in online learning and add this to their induction or EPD portfolio, for example accessing learning on the induction and EPD section of the EA website or the Supporting Learning website.
No, a teacher progresses incrementally regardless of whether they have completed induction or EPD from MS1 to MS6 as long as they teach for a minimum of 26 days in 26 separate weeks in any academic year. This is determined by pay branch in L/Derry. However, to progress to UPS1 (after MS6) the teacher needs to have completed EPD2 and 2 cycles of PRSD.
I have nearly completed induction/ EPD1/EPD2 before the school closure for COVID-19. Do I have to redo the year?
No, a teacher should retain the evidence they have obtained thus far and have a discussion with the teacher tutor when schools reopen. Some teachers may teach online and progress in this manner. All cases are different as teachers will be at different stages but where possible the teacher tutor and school will seek to progress the teacher. If, for example, a teacher has only one more observation left to do, this may be conducted in any class, as a quality assurance. This will be at the professional discretion of the school but it is possible to complete induction/EPD1 in a calendar year as well as an academic year and progress to EPD1/EPD2 in for example January 2021 or September 2021.
Is there a set amount of time for completing induction or EPD? Will this be reduced due to COVID-19 school closures?
Induction normally takes an academic year and the teacher completes 2 action plans and has 2 observations per action plan during this. EPD1 and EPD2 likewise normally take an academic year each and have one professional development activity with 2 classroom observations. Teachers progress incrementally from MS1 to MS6 as long as they teach a minimum amount of days per academic year regardless of whether they have completed induction or EPD. The current COVID-19 school closures should therefore not impact on teachers unless for example the teacher is completing EPD2 and is on MS6, in which case, schools will use professional discretion. The teacher tutor may wish to have a discussion with the teacher on the work conducted thus far and perhaps a classroom observation as quality assurance depending on the circumstances.
I am a subbing teacher and have not completed my induction or EPD yet, will I be disadvantaged due to COVID-19 school closures?
A subbing teacher will progress in the usual way but it requires flexibility and resilience. As long as you teach for a minimum of 26 days in 26 separate weeks in any academic year you will progress incrementally from MS1 to MS6 regardless of whether you have completed induction or EPD. It is possible to complete one action plan in one school, a second action plan in a different school or phase. It is also possible to do likewise with EPD1 and EPD2. Schools will be supportive and you should contact the teacher tutor in any school where you are for a sustained period of time. For example, it is possible to do an action plan with a set class, one day a week over 4 weeks, it is possible to do an action plan if you are teaching under the “engage programme” and can provide differentiated lessons, it is possible to complete an action plan if you are subbing in the same school but with different students if you do a generic topic such as ICT with e.g. a year group, form class, etc. On the induction and EPD section of the EA website there is a notification advising teachers to update their NISTR details as current positions may be available.