How to access Exceptional Teaching Arrangements (ETA)

How to get support for a child or young person.

For many children and young people with physical or mental illness, who are pregnant or have other exceptional circumstances,, their specific needs can and as far as possible should be met in school. Sometimes, however, pupils need the benefit of a short term or small group setting to help them with their education.

When this is the case, a referral should be made by the school, in consultation with the pupil and their parents/carers and with any supporting evidence from medical professionals or other relevant professionals.

Can a parent/carer refer their child or young person to this Service?

Aa a parent/carer you cannot refer your child to the Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service. You can, however, discuss a referral with the school and provide them with additional information from medics etc  that will give insight into your child’s needs and support an application to Exceptional Teaching Arrangements.

The school or educational setting can then consider a referral to Exceptional Teaching Arrangements and lead on that process.

If you have a concern about your child, speak to their teachers or a healthcare professional such as a GP, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) or social worker, who will be able to provide advice and guidance on the issue.  


How is a Child or Young Person Referred to the Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service?

A referral is made by the school with supporting information that explains why the pupil is not able to attend school. This normally relates to physical or mental health difficulties impacting on school attendance and engagement, but ETA will consider other exceptional circumstances.  Referrals relating to expulsion or other behavioural difficulties are supported through Primary and Post Primary Behaviour Support and Provisions.

Normally, the pupil being referred is too ill for school attendance and of statutory school age. Exceptional Teaching Arrangements will also support pupils from mainstream and special schools where their needs can be met by the service.

A referral for a pupil who is not registered at a school can be from other referrers such EA services or Health and Social Care professionals, e.g. Education Welfare Service

For more details on to how to access support from the Service see our Making a Referral and Timeline and Criteria information. 

What happens following a referral to the Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service?

Once a referral has been received by Exceptional Teaching Arrangements, the information is considered at a monthly multidisciplinary panel meeting.  

The panel reviews each case and makes decisions based on the best interest of the child.

If support is agreed, a staff member will contact your child’s school/educational setting to arrange an induction meeting which, will include you and school representatives.  

During this meeting the following actions will take place; 

  • All necessary information is exchanged. 
  • Required paperwork is completed, this will include the Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Parental Agreement.
  • A Risk Assessment or Risk Management Plan (if required) will be agreed upon. Risk assessments are individual to each pupil.  The assessment will be dependent upon circumstances and the discussions with the parent/carers, pupil and outside agencies such as the relevant Health and Social Care Trust. A teaching schedule will be agreed. This will include the days and times the teacher will support your child at school, community venue or home.
  • An agreed understanding that if teaching takes place in the home, a responsible adult is required to be present and available at all times during all teaching sessions.  This responsible adult should have legal responsibility for the pupil. Any other adult in attendance must be agreed before the teaching session commences. 

The Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service will work in partnership with your child’s educational setting and review meetings will take place every six – eight weeks to inform them of your child’s progress.

Level of Support

The Service offers up to 4.5 hours of teaching per week (3 sessions of 1.5 hours or the equivalent). This will be dependent on the needs, abilities and engagement of the pupil.   

The duration of the support provided is based upon  individual pupil need , the advice of the medical professional who is treating them and their engagement with the service.

Support from the Service will end when; 

  • The pupil returns to their educational setting.
  • The pupil moves to a new educational setting.
  • The medical reason for non-attendance at school has ended and ETA supports reintegration.
  • There is non-engagement/non-attendance with the ETA Service and other processes/supports are in place via the registered school and the Education Welfare Service.

If necessary, Exceptional Teaching Arrangements can offer support for a school developed reintegration plan for up to six weeks to assist the pupil to return to their educational setting.  This will involve a team member attending the educational setting to help your child or young person settle back into the setting.

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Contact the Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service

The Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service can be contacted for advice and information specific to children and young people who are unable to attend their educational setting because of physical illness or mental health.