Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from the Independent Panel for Special Education Advice (IPSEA)


  IPSEA is a national charity offering free advice and support to parents of children with special educational needs. We offer free independent advice on the Education and Library Board's legal duties towards children with special educational needs via a telephone advice line. With the commencement of the Special Educational Needs Tribunal we have extended out service in Northern Ireland to offer free support and/or representation for parents at the Tribunal. On behalf of IPSEA, I would like to thank you for seeking a response from IPSEA as part of your enquiry.

  Unfortunately due to the very specific nature of your enquiry we are unable to respond quoting facts and figures. We cannot claim to represent or be in contact with the majority of parents of children with special needs in Northern Ireland but we are contacted by a lot of very unhappy parents. Many of the problems which they are experiencing could have been resolved at an early stage in the assessment and statementing process which would save money in the long run. Similarly there appears to be a pattern of problems in that parents in different ELB's tend to experience different problems particular to their Board. There would appear to be areas where co-ordinated policy and management would benefit parents and hopefully release funds which could be better utilised in making proper provision for children.

  We wish you well with your enquiry and sincerely hope that it will result in a better and more efficient service being offered to parents of children with special needs in Northern Ireland.

25 March 1998

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