Consultation on draft SEN Regulations

Consultation opened on 30 September 2020. Closing date 02 March 2021.


The Department held a 22 week public consultation on the new draft Special Educational Needs (SEN) Regulations from 30 September 2020 until 2 March 2021.

The consultation was managed through the NI Direct Citizen Space online portal however respondents were also permitted to reply by other means. There were 207 responses received on the draft SEN Regulations consultation: 186 via Citizen Space and 21 via email.

The public consultation was complemented by a targeted approach to secure more in-depth feedback on some of the specific changes that are being proposed from those who will be most affected by them, that is, children and young people with SEN and parents/carers.

The Department has fully considered all of the responses received and has taken care to understand and reflect the range of perspectives that respondents provided.

The Department wishes to thank all those who responded to the consultations and to those that took the time to meet with officials as part of the consultation process.

The summary report of the responses to the new draft SEN Regulations consultation includes the views expressed as part of the targeted consultations. The report provides a summary of the findings and does not list all individual comments received.


Consultation description

The Department has been working to develop a new improved and more responsive SEN Framework.  The new SEN Framework is made up 3 elements:

  • The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 (the 2016 Act).
  • New SEN Regulations.
  • A new SEN Code of Practice.

This consultation is on the new Regulations which will support the primary legislation - the Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (the 1996 Order), as amended most recently by the 2016 Act.

The Department previously consulted on a set of new draft Regulations back in 2016 but due to the time delay, the absence of the Assembly, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the significant improvements made to the new draft SEN Regulations since the 2016 consultation, the Department is taking the unusual step of consulting again on the Regulations.

The new Regulations provide the detailed processes and timescales to be followed by Boards of Governors, the Education Authority (EA) and health and social care authorities (this includes the Health and Social Care Trusts – HSC Trusts) to carry out their statutory duties to identify and assess if a child has, or may have, special educational needs and to put in place special education provision for those children who have SEN.  The new draft Code of Practice is subject to a separate consultation.

We encourage you to submit your views via the green Respond Online button below.

If you are unable to complete the questionnaire via this link a copy of the questions is available as an annex in the consultation document above.  If you would like an electronic version of the questions to complete and return by email then please contact us.  Copies in other formats, including Braille, large print, etc may be made available on request.  Please contact us if you need copies in an alternative format or a language other than English, and we will do our best to assist you. 

Please note that we may publish all responses except for those where the respondent indicates that they are an individual acting in a private capacity (e.g. a member of the public).  All responses from organisations and individuals responding in a professional capacity will be published.  We will remove email addresses and telephone numbers from these responses; but apart from this, we will publish them in full. 

What Happens Next

The responses to this consultation will be analysed and a summary report of responses received will be made available on the Department’s website in due course. 


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