SEN guidance for parents

A guide for parents to help them understand what special educational needs are and what assistance is available.

Booklet for parents

The Department of Education has produced a booklet to help parents of children that have or may have special educational needs.

Your child's school

If you consider that your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), you should discuss this with your child's class teacher and/or school principal in the first instance.

The statutory responsibility for securing provision for pupils with SEN rests with both schools and the Education Authority (EA). They are responsible under special education legislation for identifying, assessing and in appropriate cases, making provision for children with SEN in their areas.

This legislation does not give the Department of Education any role in the identification and assessment of children's SEN or any power to intervene in the process, which is intended to be conducted between parents, schools and the EA.

Unhappy with SEN provision

If you remain unhappy about the nature of the proposed SEN provision you have the choice of two routes:- informal and formal to raise your concerns.

Informal route - dispute avoidance and resolution service

The informal route is a cross-board Dispute Avoidance and Resolution Service (DARS) that provides an opportunity to resolve areas of disagreement between parents and schools and/or EA.

The DARS Service Manager is Oliver Sherry, who can be contacted on 028 3751 2383.

Formal route - special educational needs and disability tribunal

The formal route, which is set in special education legislation, gives parents the right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) about the EA decisions on SEN provision.

An appeal to the tribunal must be made within two months of any disputed decision and may be made by application in writing to the Tribunal Secretary at:

Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal Secretariat
3rd Floor, Bedford House
16-22 Bedford Street
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