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How additional support is provided

Most deaf children with special educational needs (SEN) in Northern Ireland, will be supported through school-based support.

If your child’s childcare setting or school cannot provide enough support themselves, you or the school can ask the Education Authority (EA) for a statutory assessment to see if a statement of SEN is needed.

Statement of special educational needs (SEN) 

A statement of SEN is a legal document which sets out: 

  • what your child’s needs are
  • what support they should receive
  • where they should go to school. 

A statement of SEN is usually only needed if your child is attending or planning to attend a school which can’t provide all the support your child needs or if it’s unlikely they’ll be able to. To attend a special school, most children will need a statement of SEN. 

Children with SEN do not have an automatic right to a statement of SEN. To get a statement of SEN, your child will need a statutory assessment. 

You can find out more from the Special Educational Needs Advice Centre (SENAC). 

Statutory assessment 

A statutory assessment is a detailed assessment carried out by the EA. The purpose of the statutory assessment is to find out what your child’s SEN are and what additional support they need.  

The assessment will involve gathering reports from different people involved in your child’s education. This may involve an educational psychologist, your child’s school, and yourself. 

Annual reviews of statements 

If your child is given a statement of SEN, you’ll be invited by your child's pre-school, nursery or school to attend a review meeting each year. This is to make sure that your child’s statement of SEN is still providing the right support for their learning. 

When your child moves into Year 10, the annual review meeting will also include a transition planning meeting to plan what will happen when your child leaves school. Every young person age 14 year or older with a statement of SEN will have a named transition coordinator from the Education Authority. 

Complain about a statement of SEN 

If you’re unhappy with the content of your child’s statement of SEN, or if the Education Authority (EA) has refused to carry out a statutory assessment, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (Department of Justice). 

You don’t need to make a formal complaint before you appeal to the Tribunal, but strict time limits apply. Usually, you must make your complaint within two months of the EA’s decision. 

The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) 

NIPSO considers complaints against the Education Authority (EA), but only if you’ve made a formal complaint to the EA first. It will look at whether the EA has followed the law properly and fairly or whether there is any evidence of ‘maladministration’. Examples of cases that the Ombudsman might consider include if the EA: 

  • is failing to deliver support specified in your child’s statement of SEN 
  • is taking too long to let you know if they will carry out an assessment 
  • doesn’t respond to any formal complaints that you make. 

The Ombudsman cannot look at cases where the EA has followed the law but you disagree with its final decision. 

The Ombudsman also considers complaints against schools, but only if you’ve exhausted the complaints process.  

You should make your complaint to the Ombudsman within six months of the decision or action that you're complaining about. 

Find out more about making a complaint to the Ombudsman (NIPSO).

More information

Find out more in The annual review of a statement of Special Educational Needs and transition plans (Northern Ireland).

Your child might want to read our factsheet Planning for Your Future: Transition meetings and how to prepare for them.