FURTHER MEMORANDUM FROM THE BELFAST EDUCATION
AND LIBRARY BOARD
1. On what basis do you calculate funding for
placements of children with statements of special educational
needs in: (a) special schools and (b) mainstream schools?
In Northern Ireland special schools do not have
fully delegated budgets as is the case in England and Wales. Special
schools have "Limited Delegation" under which funding
is allocated to them under the following headings: Energy; Books/Materials;
Small Equipment; Printed/Stationery/Postage/Telephones; Cleaning/Laundry;
Hire of Teaching Equipment; Hire of Recreation Facilities; Hire
of Non-Teaching Equipment; Maintenance.
All other funding is held centrally by the board
including staffing costs.
The cost of a placement for a child with a statement
in a special school is calculated as the unit cost of a child
in that school.
|Total Cost of School (including Staff and Running Costs)
Number of Pupils
| = Unit cost per pupil
The cost of a placement for a child with a statement
in a mainstream school is:
+ SEN FUNDING + SOCIAL DEPRIVATION FUNDING + any additional cost
such as extra teaching or classroom assistant time, etc., provided
by the Board.
The cost of a placement for a child with a statement
in a special unit is:
.74 AWPU1 + SEN FUNDING + SOCIAL DEPRIVATION
FUNDING. The Board also provides staffingboth teaching
and non-teachingin special units
2. Please describe the criteria that assist you
in making different allocations to different schools
Provision, and therefore costs, of a child with
a statement in a mainstream school vary according to the child's
needs and the provision made for him/her.
Costs in special schools for a child with a
statement vary depending on the child's difficulties (MLD, SLD,
physical disabilities, etc.) and the staffing levels in the particular
type of special school.
3. How do you evaluate the effectiveness of different
placements for children with statements of special educational
The performance of special schools and special
educational services such as learning outreach services and behavioural
outreach services is examined by the Inspectorate through its
programme of school inspections.
The progress of individual children receiving
outreach support because of learning or behavioural problems is
very closely monitored through annual review procedures involving
the mainstream school, the outreach service and the educational
Evaluation of a special educational provision
and evaluation of individual children's progress are both important
since it is in the nature of the difficulties experienced by children
with SEN that their progress may be quite minimal even when attending
provision which is of good quality.
In addition to school inspections which evaluate
special educational provisions, the board relies mainly on the
evidence of progress made by individual pupils in particular placements.
When the board has occasionally carried out more systematic evaluations
it has been on occasions when it has had the opportunity to use
students or teachers involved in further study who wish to carry
out research as part of their course of study. We have, in the
last three years, on this basis conducted evaluations with the
help of psychology students from the University of Ulster and
the University of Exeter. It must be said, however, that the present
pressure to have regard to the Code of Practice makes it very
difficult to give the time necessary for systematic evaluation
of special educational provisions.
4. What are the reporting arrangements in respect
of how schools use the funding for non-statemented pupils with
special educational needs?
There are no reporting arrangements at present
because SEN funding in mainstream schools is part of formula funding
and as such is entirely at the discretion of the Boards of Governors.
Giving Boards of Governors this autonomy was what LMS was all
If there were to be a change in this situation,
the LMS Scheme would have to be amended and this would require
approval from DENI.
Under the new Code of Practice, Board of Governors
will have to account for SEN funding at the annual parents' meetings.
5. How do you interpret the definitions of "special
educational provision" and "special educational needs"
(as set out in the Education Order (NI) 1996) for your board area?
The Board interprets these terms in the broad
sense as per the Warnock (1978) Report. That is to say, the Board
considers that roughly 18 per cent of children will have special
educational needs and will require special educational provision.
However, in all but about 2 per cent of cases, it is anticipated
that the needs will be such that schools will meet these special
educational needs from within their own resources, or with the
assistance of special educational services, without the need for
a statement of special educational needs to be made. The Board
would stress however that the 2 per cent figure quoted above does
not represent some sort of limit or quota beyond which the Board
will not go. Each case is considered on its individual merits.
6. Do you apply the definitions differentially
for the various categories of special educational needs as defined
in the Code of Practice? If so how?
The question is posed in terms of "definitions"
and "categories". This seems to imply an assumption
that the process of providing for children with special educational
needs is one of categorising the type of problem the child has
by reference to the definition of each category, then providing
the type of help that is designated as appropriate to each category.
The process is only superficially like this. In reality, children's
needs do not fit neatly into categories; nor does provision. Issues
of definition are therefore less important than the question implies.
In reality, the process is one of trying to identify and list
the special needs of the child and then trying to arrange special
provision which can meet these needs. A child with Aspergers Syndrome
(rather like a mild autism) may, for example, have mild literacy
difficulties, extreme maths difficulties, and be socially very
odd. Such a child might very well be best catered for in a school
for children with moderate learning difficulties or a school for
children with medical conditions. Some children may be defined
as dyslexic, or partially sighted, or partially hearing, yet they
may have such a mild version of the condition that they are catered
for in the mainstream school with no extra resources provided
beyond any extra attention that the ordinary class teacher provides.
For children who exhibit general learning difficulties,
the Board relies heavily on the use of standardised test results
combined with clinical judgment to decide whether the learning
difficulty should be defined as mild, moderate or severe. The
criteria are applied in such a way that the Board will provide
support additional to that already made by the school for those
children whose attainment levels are judged to be among the weakest
2 per cent of children measured against United Kingdom norms.
If the support provided is of an outreach or peripatetic type
which is available normally to schools, no statement is required.
For children with specific learning difficulties
such as dyslexia, the Board again relies heavily on standardised
test results. Pupils who show a statistically significant discrepancy
(with 95 per cent confidence) between intelligence and literacy
scores for example may be described as dyslexic or said to have
specific difficulties with literacy. These difficulties may be
quite mild, however, a child with a very high IQ may be described
as dyslexic if his reading attainments are only average. For many
children, therefore, the required provision can be made by their
own school. The board may provide a statement for such children
if their level of reading is extremely restricted, i.e., if it
is as weak as that of the weakest 2 per cent of children of the
same age. However, the board provides a peripatetic teaching service
which provides for a much broader group of children who do not
have statements of special educational need.
With other types of special difficulty, there
is generally less reliance on the results of standardised tests
and much more reliance on clinical judgment and other types of
information such as that provided by therapists and doctors. The
Board will consider making a statement, to quote the Code of Practice,
when the child's difficulties:
are significant and/or complex;
have not responded to relevant and
purposeful measures taken by the school and any external specialists
may call for special educational
provision which cannot reasonably be provided within the resources
normally available to mainstream schools in the area.
For example, the assessment of emotional and
behavioural problems is basically a process of judging how much
and what type of extra support, if any, is necessary to maintain
the child in a mainstream school or judging whether the situation
is such that special placement is essential. Probably more so
than with any other type of difficulty, the context in which the
problem is occurring is a major consideration. Definitions and
categories are usually of little relevance. The increasing incidence
of the diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)
and Autistic Spectrum Disorders is, however, making definition
and categorisation more relevant as there are specific treatments
that sometimes can be of benefit to children with such disorders.
It appears that the number of children with emotional and behavioural
difficulties will always be at least as large as the number of
children for whom special provision can be made.
The three preconditions described above are
also brought into play in relation to the other types of difficulty
described in the Code of Practice.
The main issue of importance to schools and
parents in relation to special educational needs is whether there
is enough special provision available to meet the needs of all
the children and who should pay for the provisionthe Board
or the school. The Board finds that it is usually not difficult
to meet the needs of children with visual or hearing problems,
or children with medical conditions, or children with speech and
language difficulties, or children with physical disabilities.
It is often, however, difficult to arrange sufficient provision
for children with learning difficulties, specific learning difficulties
such as dyslexia, and children with emotional and behavioural
problems. Conditions such as "dyspraxia", which have
become popularised in recent years by non-educationalists such
as speech and language therapists and occupational therapists,
also provide a challenge. Once such a condition is diagnosed,
parents often assume that special educational provision should
automatically follow, paid for by the Board, even through the
condition may be having a mild impact on the child's educational
7. What steps has the Board taken towards promoting
the integration of pupils with statements of special educational
needs into mainstream schools?
There has been a vast growth in outreach teaching
which has been provided to retain children with SEN in their own
mainstream schools. This has not, however, reduced the number
of children in special schools.
The demand for even more children to attend
special schools has been stemmed by the introduction of very consistently
applied criteria for children with special needs.
However, special schools in Northern Ireland
have had time to improve themselves; they are popular with parents;
children do not want to leave them; their parents resist plans
to reintegrate; schools build in social inclusion in to their
curriculum; there is little popular demand for integration among
parents; the level of segregation in Northern Ireland is still
very, very low in comparison with levels in countries such as
Belgium and Germany where around 5 per cent of children are in
8. How many children of school age in your Board's
area are receiving education otherwise than at school (EOTAS)?
What is the cost of this provision? On average what percentage
of full-time education does education otherwise provide? What
is the nature of this provision?
|Children receiving EOTAS
|Children in Northside Project
|Cost of Provision
|Percentage of Education Provided
Nature of Provision
Both EOTAS and Northside provide teaching in Literacy and
Numeracy, Information Technology, PE, Arts and Crafts, some Science
and Home Economics. In addition there are links with Job Skills,
Social Services, Further Education and also with Youth Agencies
in respect of personal and social education.
9. What arrangements are there for co-operation between your
Board and Health and Social Services Boards? If there are difficulties,
please give examples.
Health and Social Services Boards, through their Trusts,
provide the Board with medical, nursing, therapy and social services
for children in special schools and special units.<jf104>
The Board has provided some psychology time to Health services
for children's assessment clinics as well as Teacher of the Hearing
Impaired time for audiology clinics.
More recently the Health and Social Services Boards and the
Education and Library Boards have set up a Regional Review Group
to look at provision within education across the boards.
There are continuing difficulties in respect of the amount
of therapy time available, particularly speech and language therapy,
and parents often demand more provision for their children.
The anomaly in the new Code of Practice whereby the prime
responsibility to provide speech and language therapy lies with
Health Services, while the ultimate responsibility to provide
speech and language therapy lies with Education, also continues
to present problems. Parents have taken education authorities
to Tribunals because health services have not provided enough
speech and language therapy to their children.
The central problem here is that while health services are
required only to provide a speech and language service, the Education
and Library Board has to ensure that the speech and language needs
of the individual child are met.
10. Are there any agreed policies between the Education and
Library Board and the appropriate Health and Social Services Board
regarding health and social services provision for children with
special educational needs?
The Regional Review Group which has been established by both
the Health and Social Services Boards and the Education and Library
Boards has recently produced a draft of an "Interagency Agreement"
which is currently with all of the Boards for consultation.
6 July 1998
1 Age Weighted Pupil Unit Back