MEMORANDUM FROM THE BELFAST EDUCATION
AND LIBRARY BOARD
Under the terms of the 1986 and 1996 Education
(Northern Ireland) Orders the Board has a responsibility to assess
and to provide for children with special educational needs.
It is estimated that up to 20 per cent of the
school population have special educational needs. The board makes
special provision for about 2 per cent of these children and the
remaining 18 per cent are provided for within their own schools,
which receive special funding through the Local Management of
Schools (LMS) scheme.
The Board makes special provision for children
with special educational needs in 12 special schools, nine special
units and one hospital school within the city. Additionally, some
children from within the board's area are placed in special provision
in other board areas or in special schools or colleges in England.
1. ANNUAL EXPENDITURE
The figures below show the annual recurrent
expenditure on special schools over a 10-year-period from 1987-88
|BELB expenditure on special educationfinal accounts|
Teachers' salaries included from 1993-94.
Educational Psychologists' salaries included from 1995-96.
|Expenditure on Special Units for 1990-91 to 1996-97|
|Expenditure on Peripatetic Teachers 1994-95 to 1996-97|
2. SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL
Special Educational Needs funding through the LMS formula
in primary and secondary schools is based on transfer procedure
results. Schools are funded for pupils who have scored "D"
in the transfer procedure or who have opted out of the transfer
procedure or who have statements of special educational needs.
Special needs in nursery schools are funded on the basis
of 18 per cent of the school enrolment. Special Educational Needs
allocation to nursery, primary and secondary Schools:
Funding for social deprivation in nursery, primary and secondary
schools is based on the number of pupils on free school meals
in each school. Social deprivation allocation to nursery, primary
and secondary schools.
3. DEMAND FOR
During the present school year, the Board is making provision
for children with special educational needs as follows:
| ||Present Provision||Awaiting Placement|
|Special Schools||1,448+50 nursery||20+16 nursery|
|Other boards (including outside NI)||188||27|
|Outreach teaching in mainstream schools||449||85|
|Peripatetic Support (mainstream schools)|
|Specific learning difficulties||154||105|
The Board presently has children with statements of special
educational needs and undergoing formal assessment as follows:
Children with Statements of Special Educational Needs 1,729
Children currently being formally assessed 627
Decisions on whether statements should be made, and on the
most suitable school placement, are made by the Board on the basis
of the assessment of a child's individual needs.
When children are first referred to the Board in respect
of special educational needs they are assessed by the board's
educational psychology service.
Referrals to the educational psychology service during 1997
Whilst it is difficult to estimate future demand, there has
been an upward trend in the number of children requiring special
educational provision. Most special schools are full and there
has been a steady growth in the number of children with severe
learning difficulties (mental handicap) over the past 10 years.
This is due to an increase in the birth rate of children with
these difficulties and improvements in medical practice which
have enabled some children, who would have previously died, to
survive much longer.
There is also a constant demand for provision for children
with emotional and behaviour problems. Pressures within mainstream
schools have increased because of the Northern Ireland Curriculum,
publication of results, etc., has encouraged schools to seek their
The SEN Code of Practice will be fully in place in Northern
Ireland in September 1998. It is expected that there will be a
demand for extra SEN provision through the emphasis on parental
rights, parental access to tribunals, early diagnosis of problems
and a need for effective intervention.
As an indicator of future demand, the Audit Commission's
statistics for England and Wales show a recorded increase of up
to 10 per cent in the number of statements maintained by LEAs
over the 2 year period 1994-96. The Belfast Education and Library
Board's figures for the same period are as follows:
Percentage of pupils with statements in Belfast Education
and Library Board area:
Given that the Code of Practice has not yet been fully implemented
in Northern Ireland, it is expected that there will be an increasing
demand for both informal assessments and formal assessments leading
to statements, as well as a requirement for additional provision
for children with special educational needs.
In England and Wales, also, up to 60 per cent of Tribunal
cases have involved children with dyslexia. If parents of dyslexic
children become involved in Tribunal cases in Northern Ireland
in the same sort of proportion, it could lead to a significant
change in the provision for children with this difficulty.
4. SPECIAL EDUCATION
There have been no representations made to the Board in respect
of special educational provision. Inspections of special schools
and special units carried out by the Department of Education's
Inspectorate give indications of inadequacies in provision and
remedial action is taken as appropriate in respect of buildings,
facilities and staffing within the available budget allocation.
The increasing number of children with severe learning difficulties
has been noted and the board has provided additional accommodation
in both of its SLD schools and it has also developed a course
in the Belfast Institute for Further and Higher Education for
older pupils in the 16-19 age group. This course has been funded
through EU Peace and Reconciliation monies.
In order to integrate children with physical disabilities
in mainstream schools, the board has provided some primary and
secondary schools with ramps, toilets and lifts, as appropriate,
so that children in wheelchairs can access the buildings. At present
four primary schools, three secondary schools and one grammar
school have these facilities.
The Board's computer system which operates the statementing
procedure currently needs to be updated so that all of the requirements
of the Code of Practice can be implemented. This will include
making the system compatible with other systems within the Board
so that more comprehensive statements can be produced within expected
Requests from Health and Social Services Trusts for equipment
for pupils in schools for children with physical disabilities
and severe learning difficulties continue to be met by the Board.
As this equipment is ordered/recommended by Health and Social
Services staff, there is an unfulfilled expectation that Health
and Social Services should at the very least, share this cost.
There continues to be a shortfall in places for pupils with
emotional and behavioural difficulties. The Board is currently
planning to provide a new building for the Jaffe Centre to replace
the building burnt down in the summer of 1996. It is expected
that this new building will be given priority by the Department
The Board has made representations to the Department of Education
regarding the need to recognise special education as a demand-led
service and to make funds available so that adequate provision
can be made for children for whom the Board has statutory responsibility.
At present, Health and Social Services Trusts are the employers
of the speech and language therapists who provide speech and language
therapy for children in special schools and special units. Under
the terms of the Code of Practice, the Board has the "ultimate"
responsibility for making speech and language therapy provision
for these children when they require it. It is important that
this matter of accountability for speech and language therapy
provision is resolved.
There is also a growing shortage of educational psychologists
in Northern Ireland and a need, therefore, to increase the number
being trained to meet the requirements of both mainstream and
special schools throughout the five Education and Library Boards.
5. EFFECTS OF
(NI) 1995 AND THE
Both of these encourage more co-operation and liaison between
boards and other professionals; parents' rights have been increased
and it is expected that more time will be spent trying to reconcile
disagreements with parents and defending cases at Tribunals.
This increase of board/parent/professional/school links will
require more contact time and a substantial increase in the time
needed to carry out all of the administrative procedures involved
in formal assessments.
Inclusive education requires more resources to be made available
in mainstream schools while at the same time maintaining special
Mainstream schools will require:
access for wheelchairs;
outreach teaching services;
advisory services for the hearing impaired, visually
impaired and the physically disabled;
It is expected that parental preference of schools and heightened
parental awareness of rights to additional support will give rise
to disagreements about:
efficient use of resources;
discontinuing statements and support.
It is expected also that there will be an increased demand
educational psychology services;
special teaching services;
In addition to the above, the Code of Practice will also
have implications for the training and staff development needs
of schools and boards, especially in respect of diagnostic assessment,
record keeping, individual education plans and teaching methods.
At present there are 609 children awaiting informal assessment
within the board's area. The delay in seeing these children is
due to a shortage of time available within the psychology service.
Schools are allocated psychologists' time according to their size,
need and the amount of time available, and they identify their
own priorities in terms of the needs of their pupils with guidance
from the psychology service.
In the school year 1996-97 referrals for formal assessment
were as follows:
Overall, the Code of Practice and the Children Order will
increase the expectations of both parents and school in regard
to Board provision and services.