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Support for special educational needs

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

School-based support

Where a pupil is identified as having special educational needs (SEN), schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective support in place. This is known as school-based support.

School-based support has three levels of increasing support.

  • The teacher talks to the child’s parents and other teachers, assesses the child’s SEN and adapts the curriculum to make sure the child can access it. The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) will advise the teacher at this stage, and add the child to the school’s SEN register.
  • The SENCO assesses the child and creates an Individual Education Plan (IEP). The SENCO will monitor review the child and keep their parents updated on their progress.
  • The IEP is reviewed and outside support might be brought in such as an educational psychologist.

The majority of deaf children with SEN will be supported through this approach. If the school can’t provide enough support themselves through school-based support you (or the school) can ask for a statutory assessment to see if a statement of SEN is needed.

Assessments and statements

A statutory assessment is a detailed assessment carried out by the education authority (EA) involving a number of specialist professionals, including an educational psychologist and the school or nursery, to find out what your child’s SEN are and what help they need.

A statement of SEN is a legal document, based on the findings of the statutory assessment, which sets out what your child’s needs are, what support they should receive, and where they should go to school.

Statutory assessments and statements of SEN are usually only needed if your child’s nursery or school can’t provide all of the support your child needs from their own resources or if it’s unlikely they will be able to. For example, the school may have tried different strategies to meet your child’s needs but they still aren’t making enough progress.

Find out more from the Special Educational Needs Advice Centre which publishes An introduction to Special Educational Needs system in Northern Ireland which has more information on school-based support, statutory assessments statements.

Annual reviews of statements

You’ll be invited by your child's school to attend a review meeting every 12 months, to make sure that their statement of SEN is still providing the right support for your child's learning.

In Year 9 the review meeting is used to plan what will happen when your child leaves school at age 16. This is called a 'transition' plan.

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.