Parents of SEN children saying they are 'not allowed to apply to special education schools'

Parents of SEN children have said they have been told they are "not allowed" to apply for Northern Irish special schools by the EA.

A number of parents whose children are due to leave primary school this year claim that their applications to secondary schools have been "completely ignored" and the EA has said it has made their decisions for them.

The parents, who's children are currently in an SEN unit at their primary schools, say that they had applied to a number of special education schools in Northern Ireland as their children's statement of special educational needs says that they have been unable to cope in a mainstream setting.

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However, they say that they were contacted by a staff member at the Education Authority who told them that they will not be considering their applications and that their children will be going to a mainstream school.

Tasha Reid from North Belfast told Belfast Live that she was "disgusted" with the response that she received from the EA regarding her daughter's school next year and does not believe that her needs have been given any consideration at all.

She said: "My daughter is currently in a dedicated SEN unit at her primary school where she has been able to receive the correct support with her education and has made amazing progress at school. This is after having to miss time in school after she was withdrawn from mainstream primary school at a young age on the advice of doctors due to her additional needs.

"She is now getting prepared to go to secondary school next year and has a statement saying that she needs to be placed into a SEN setting as she is not able to cope with a mainstream one.

"I applied for her to go to a number of special education schools in the Belfast area as a result of this, because she needs to be in a suitable setting for her education and I was disgusted when I received a call from someone in the EA who said that they would not be considering any of the schools that we had applied for and that she would only be considered for a mainstream school.

"I argued with the person about how unsuitable this would be for my daughter and was told that the school they had chosen for her would have no difficulty in catering for her additional needs, but when I rang the school and spoke with the head teacher they said that this is simply not the case and they would struggle to provide any support for my daughter.

"I told the EA that I do not consider that my daughter has a place in school next year and know that there are many other parents out there whose children will be in the same position.

"Our children are being failed time and time again and it feels like the majority of SEN children do not seem to matter."

Tasha is one of a number of parents who will be meeting with the EA at Newtownards Town Hall on April 25, to discuss their concerns that SEN children are being underfunded and under-supported with their education.

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