McIlveen announces Special Educational Needs provision in mainstream schools

Date published: 21 June 2022

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has approved a number of Specialist Provisions in Mainstream Schools as part of a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Area Planning pilot exercise.

The pilot includes the simultaneous provision of 128 Specialist Provisions across 58 schools.

Announcing the provisions the Minister said:

“The educational interests and wellbeing of our most vulnerable pupils are a priority for me.  

“I have approved these specialist provisions in mainstream schools to help ensure that pupils with SEN receive a high quality of education; the opportunity to achieve their full potential through the best educational experiences possible; equality of opportunity; and access to pathways that meet their needs.

“My Department is working to make Area Planning processes more efficient and agile. This pilot is another step forward in ensuring that our Area Planning is fit for purpose and delivers the best possible outcomes for children and young people.

“I offer my thanks to all those involved in the pilot, including our pupils and their families, schools and the Education Authority and look forward to continued partnership and collaboration.”

Notes to editors: 

1. The 128 Specialist Provisions includes 88 existing temporary provisions and 40 additional Key Stage pathway provisions.

2. Overarching this SEN Pilot is a wider Area Planning Strategy which includes the development and publication of two new Strategic Area Planning Frameworks (for Specialist Provision in Mainstream Schools (SPiMS) and Special Schools) and the development of a new regional Special Education Strategic Area Plan ‘Planning for Special Education Provision’ (SESAP: 2022-2027) which (along with the second strategic  Area Plan for mainstream primary and post-primary provision) is due to commence on 1 September 2022 and will be launched by the Minister shortly under separate cover.

3. SEN Area Planning Frameworks can be found at the following links to the Education Authority’s (EA) website:

4.. The Department has, in close collaboration with the EA, completed an initial SEN pilot which resulted in the endorsement of a new process for change at SPiMS and removes the need for a statutory Development Proposal (DP). The new process is linked to the Annual Plan of Arrangements (APA) process to be introduced when the SEN Act (NI) 2016 is enacted.  The second pilot aims to ‘bridge the gap’ until the SEND Act is enacted to ensure that SEN pupils have the places they require and to provide a robust Area Planning baseline in readiness for the commencement of the SESAP. The SEN Pilot (2) is being progressed under two work streams due to be completed in Summer 2022 and 2023 respectively. The approved provisions will be implemented by the EA, as soon as it is practical to do so.

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7. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.




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