About the programme

We are working hard to transform our services and supports for children with special educational needs or disabilities, and you, their parents, carers and wider families, but there is a lot of work to do.  

Over the last ten years, more and more children and young people have been identified as having a special educational need or diagnosed with a disability. As well as this, the complexity of those needs have also increased.   

There have been many reports published on special educational needs services over the last year, from organisations including the: 

  • Northern Ireland Audit Office;  
  • Public Accounts Committee; and, 
  • Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People. 

These reports made many recommendations for change and we know that we must do better for all our children and young people with a special educational need and/or disabilities.  

That is why we have decided to establish a single Programme through which we can deliver all the work that is required to make positive and lasting changes to the special educational needs system.  

This Programme is called the Special Educational Needs or Disabilities Strategic Development Programme (SEND SDP). It is governed jointly by the Education Authority, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and wider educational and family support organisations. 

So what is it?

The SEND Strategic Development Programme is being established to provide a single structure through which the entire SEND change agenda can be co-ordinated. More than this, it will ensure that you, our principals and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators, and all stakeholders, can be meaningfully engaged in the process.

SEND SDP vision

The vision for this Programme is that: 

 “All children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities and their families are receiving the tailored and effective supports that they need to secure the best educational outcomes, delivered by a child-focused, responsive, co-ordinated, transparent, efficient and sustainable system.” 

That vision will be delivered through the following programme outcomes: 

  • Parents/carers and children & young people understand, engage fully with and are getting the right support from the SEND system at the right time 
  • All schools and pre-school settings can access the necessary services and resources and provide the right SEND supports at the earliest possible point, for all children who need them 
  • Statutory assessment is leading to the right additional SEND supports being delivered at the right time in the right setting 
  • SEND stakeholders have a shared sense of ownership and confidence in the system. 

The work we need to do to transform our SEND services and supports for our children and young people is complex and it will take time. The first thing that we have done is identify a first wave of 14 projects which will be developed and delivered over the next two years.  

Last updated: 23/09/2021