Mr Chris Lyttle
Tabled Date: 09/10/2013
Answered On Date: 16/10/2013
Priority Written: No
To ask the Minister of Education what action his Department is taking to promote inclusion and provision for people with a disability.
The introduction of the Special Educational Needs and Disability (NI) Order 2005 strengthened the right to an ordinary education place for children or young people with special educational needs (SEN) and extended similar provisions to those contained in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to educational institutions in the north of Ireland. Not every pupil with a disability will have SEN but, where a disability prevents the pupil from accessing education then provision for the pupil may be considered through the medium of a statement of special education needs.
With the introduction of SENDO it is unlawful for a “responsible body” to discriminate against pupils or prospective pupils in;
the arrangements a school makes for determining admission to the school;
the terms in which the school offers to admit a child;
a refusal by the school to admit a child or by deliberately omitting the child’s application
discrimination by the school in the education or associated services provided for or offered to pupils at the school;
discrimination by the school by suspending or expelling the child.
“Responsible body” means;
in the case of a grant-aided school the Board of Governors of the school or the Education and Library Board for the area in which the school is situated, according to which has the function in question; or in relation to an independent school, the proprietor.
Part B of the Department’s Annual Progress Report to the Equality Commission sets out action measures carried out in relation to the implementation of disability duties. The most recent Annual Progress Report can be found on the Equality Scheme page of the Department’s website.
Copies of the Annual Progress Report have also been placed in the Assembly Library.
In the near future, there will be a consultation on the Department’s proposed Disability Action Plan for 2013-15 and the Five Year Review of Disability Action Plans. This will provide additional opportunities to engage with, and be challenged by, individuals with disabilities and organisations representing persons with disabilities.