Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

EA works with schools and educational settings to help to reduce the barriers to learning that children and young people with special educational needs may experience.

What we do

Our dedicated teams of professionals have a clear vision: to help and support every child to be the best that they can be. The support that the EA offers is detailed in the EA Plan of Arrangements for Special Educational Provision. This plan sets out how we support educational settings and schools, and their children and young people who have a Special Educational Need (SEN) and or Disability (SEND). It is published each academic year. We have dedicated this section of our website to make it as easy as possible to access the information in the plan.

We provide information and guidance for schools,  parents and carers to support improved outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs.

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    Support for children and young people who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with a co-occurring special educational need (SEN).
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    Behaviour Support - Post Primary

    Support for young people who have social, behavioural, emotional and wellbeing needs.
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    Behaviour Support - Primary

    Support for children who have social, behavioural, emotional and wellbeing needs.
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    Down Syndrome

    Support for children and young people with a medical diagnosis of Down syndrome.
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    Educational Psychologist talking with Special Educational Needs Coordinator

    Educational Psychology

    Support for children and young people with a range of Special Educational Needs by enhancing their learning, development and emotional wellbeing.
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    Learning Support Coordinator and Classroom Assistant in discussion.

    Exceptional Teaching

    Support for children and young people who are unable to attend their educational setting because of physical illness or mental health.
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    Language and Communication

    Support for children and young people whose primary need is language development, including Developmental Language Disorder.
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    Support for children and young people with cognitive and learning difficulties in literacy and dyslexia.
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    Medical Needs

    Support for children and young people who live with a long-term medical condition.
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    Children learning on computers

    Moderate Learning Difficulties

    Support for children and young people with Moderate Learning Difficulties.
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    SEN Early Years Inclusion Service

    Support for pre-school children who have special educational needs and disability (SEND).
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    Severe Learning Difficulties

    Support for children and young people with Severe Learning Difficulties.
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    Vision Impairment and Deafness

    Support for children and young people who are deaf/hard of hearing, have a vision impairment, or who have a multi-sensory impairment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who do I talk to if I think my child or young person has SEN?

Children and young people do not always learn at the same rate or pace. Some may have difficulties with aspects of their learning from time to time but most children and young people with learning difficulties do not have special educational needs.

Teachers use a wide variety of activities to support each pupil’s learning. All schools have the resources to meet the vast majority of learning needs experienced by children and young people. This is called Whole School Provision and is detailed in the Schools Section of the Code of Practice.

If you are worried about your child’s progress, you should contact the educational setting or school in the first instance. Teachers will explain how your child is getting on in school and, if needed, address any concerns you may have. They will also explain about the Whole School Provision provided in the school and how they identify children and young people who may have SEN.

Your child’s teacher may also advise how you can help your child at home.

What is Special Educational Provision?

Teachers are responsible for meeting the needs of all children and young people in their class, as detailed by the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland. All learners are supported in schools through a differentiated curriculum, targeted support and reasonable adjustments. 

When these strategies cease to be effective with a pupil and they no longer make adequate progress, special educational provision may be introduced alongside the above strategies and the pupil will be placed on the SEN Register of the school. 

They will have a Personal Learning Plan (PLP), which is a document that describes what difficulties the child has and how these difficulties affect them at school. It also explains what support a child or young person is getting to help them learn best at school and to make progress. The PLP describes what the support will look like in the school, who will be involved to support them and what special equipment or resources will be used. 

Who decides if a child or young person is placed on the SEN Register of the school?

Every school determines if a child or young person that they teach has an identified SEN which impacts on their learning and access to the curriculum. Advice and guidance is available from the Department of Education, the Education Authority and schools regarding which children and young people need to be recorded on the SEN register.

The identified SEN is recorded under one or more of the five over-arching SEN categories  set by the Department of Education. These are:

  1. Cognition & Learning (CL)
  2. Social, Behavioural, Emotional and Well-being (SBEW)
  3. Speech, Language & Communication Needs (SLCN)
  4. Sensory (SE)
  5. Physical Needs (PN)

What are the SEN and Medical Categories?

The Department of Education (DE) requires  special educational needs (SEN) categories in order to provide accurate information about the numbers of children and young people in Northern Ireland with different types of SEN for whom special educational provision is being made.

It is the school’s decision to place a child on the SEN Register. Pupils with SEN may have more than one type of need. A pupil on the SEN Register has a special educational need that requires special educational provision to be made for them. 

If a pupil has a medical need, this is recorded on the school’s medical register. Teachers or educational psychologists are not qualified to diagnose medical conditions. Schools will add a pupil to the medical register based on information provided by parents or carers, or from a Health and Social Care Trust.

A pupil can be recorded on the SEN Register and the Medical Register if they have both a medical need and require special educational provision.

The DE has further information and guidance available for SEN and Medical Categories

What do I do if I’m worried my child has SEN?

You should always speak to the teachers and LSC at the school which your child attends. They will be able to provide information on your child’s progress and if they are making progress in line with ability.

Your child may have had a private diagnosis of a medical condition and/or SEN. You may wish to share any private reports or assessments with your child’s school for their information

The final assessment or report provided to you may be helpful in informing the work being carried out in school. However, the school is under no obligation to follow any advice or recommendations in private reports which in the teacher’s professional opinion and the schools experience of working with the child, are not appropriate for the child or conflict with the presentation of the pupil in school.

For more advice, you may wish to contact the EA SEN Helpdesk on 028 9598 5960, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, where you can seek general advice about SEN.

What if I don’t agree with the decision?

You may wish to contact the Dispute Avoidance & Resolution Service (DARS), a free and independent service which works towards avoiding and resolving disagreements between parents and the Education Authority, or parents and an educational setting or school, in regard to children with SEN. This service, provided by Global Mediation, provides a forum for exploring differences, identifying points of agreement and finding a way forward which is acceptable for all involved. You can also telephone (028 9072 6060) or write to Global Mediation (55-59 Adelaide Street, Belfast BT2 8FE)

Contact Us

If you have queries or need advice, guidance or support contact us.