Northern Ireland

Almost 400 children with special needs still waiting on school place

The shortfall in places is for both primary and post-primary schools
The shortfall in places is for both primary and post-primary schools The shortfall in places is for both primary and post-primary schools

Almost 400 children with special educational needs in Northern Ireland are still waiting on a school place.

Figures from the Education Authority (EA) reveal that 394 children are awaiting a confirmed placement in school or nursery for September.

But the EA said more than 93 per cent of all children with a statement of special educational needs have a place.

It added that it is "working to ensure all children will be placed appropriately as soon as possible".

Read more: 

  • Renewed calls for EA to find school places for children with special education needs
  • Shortfall of special school places for children in NI
  • Koulla Yiasouma: Progress on SEN reform 'painfully slow and at risk'

While parents of pupils seeking a place in mainstream primaries and post-primaries have already been informed of what school their child will go to in September, many children are still without a place.

The shortfall of places is needed in both primary and post-primary schools across Northern Ireland.

It comes amid growing pressure on the education system with recent warnings from the EA that a "significant shortfall" in special school places this year was likely.

In the latest update from the EA, it said that more than 5,000 children with a statement for SEN had a confirmed pre-school or school place.

"More than 93 per cent of all children with a statement of special educational need (SEN) now have a confirmed place," it said.

"Consultation is ongoing with parents/carers and schools for the remaining pupils.

"We absolutely recognise that this is an extremely anxious time for those parents/carers and children waiting for the confirmation of a school place.

"Supporting children with SEN and ensuring all children with statements receive a placement which fully meets their needs to ensure that they are happy, learning and succeeding, remains a top priority."

The EA also said that less than five special schools will close their nurseries in 2023/24 to admit more children into Primary One.

It did not name the special schools that will be affected.

"In areas of high demand, nursery children have been placed in a range of settings including specialist provisions in mainstream schools, satellite settings aligned with special schools and, in some cases, parents have opted for mainstream nursery settings with support," the EA said.