SEN Learner Journey Project

There are approximately 79k children and young people in NI on the current Special Educational Needs (SEN) register; 13k are receiving EA support services (Stage 3) and almost 18k have statements (Stage 5). The journey for children and young people as learners and their parents and carers from inclusion on the Register, statutory assessment and statementing stages (if required) involves a significant number of stages and processes.

The legislative context is set out in the Education (NI) Order 1996, the Special Educational Needs and Disability (NI) Order (SENDO) 2005, the Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) NI Act 2016, the Education (Special Educational Needs) Regulations (NI) 2005 (to be replaced by new Regulations, yet to be made) and the 1998 SEN Code of Practice and the 2005 Supplement (to be replaced with a new Code, also still to be finalised.)  The legislation and the Code are known collectively as the ‘SEN’ Framework.

Each stage and process requires effective communication and collaboration between the learner, their parents/carer and their school and post Stage 1 (under the new SEN Framework), a number of educational, health and support service providers. The experience of learners and their parents in navigating these processes across organisational and service provider boundaries and effectiveness of information services at each stage requires review to identify transformational redesign and opportunities for efficiencies and quality standards for all invested in achieving the best outcome for the learner.

Around 70% of statements take more than 6 months to be produced. Delays in access to support services and negative feedback are not uncommon and can have long lasting impacts for learners and their parents/carers.

Project objectives

This project is key in supporting and complementary to the work being undertaken by the Department in implementing the new SEN Framework and Code of Practice and the transformational work being undertaken by the Education Authority. The project is being taken forward in three phases:

  • Phase 1 - February to May 2019 – this focused on project initiation and creation of the Project Board
  • Phase 2 – May 2019 to March 2020 – this phase will focus on stakeholder engagement and the development of draft recommendations for consideration by the Project Board.
  • Phase 3 – March 2020 to September 2020 – this phase will focus on implementation of the approved recommendations and project closure.

The objectives are

  • To transform communication and engagement with Learners, their parents/carers and relevant stakeholders in implementing the new SEN Framework to create a Learner centric system and improve service delivery, experience and outcomes for pupils.
  • To maximize opportunities for effective digital case management and information sharing, at all stages of the SEN process, while protecting data access.
  • To improve awareness of and confidence in the SEN registration and statutory assessment journey.

Expected outcomes

  • Mapping of existing processes, communication points and organisational practice under the existing SEN Code of Practice against the desired new state under the new Code of Practice i.e. compare the “As Is” and the “To Be”.
  • Identification of interfaces and linkages of the new SEN Framework implementation with EA Transformation Programme and Children and Young People’s Services planned work.
  • Identification of opportunities for early wins and areas of improvement.
  • Evidence on the experience of Learners and their parents/carers (the “Learner Journey”) throughout each stage of the process to identify the type and level of support and advice provided, areas of good practice and areas for improvement to increase confidence in the entire SEN process.
  • Identify opportunities for more efficient data collection and sharing of information to minimise duplication and sharing of best practice.
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