Budget crisis: concern for special needs school

ALLIANCE Deputy Leader Eileen Bell MLA (North Down) has expressed major concern that school resources for children with special needs in the South Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB) area are under threat.

Multi-million pound budget cuts are expected to be introduced in the Board’s area to compensate for overspending, and this is likely to adversely affect the schooling of children with special educational needs, said Mrs Bell.

Mrs Bell stated:

“It is highly concerning that resources for schools in the SEELB area catering for pupils with special educational needs are under threat. Only last week, I was contacted by the principal of a special needs school uncertain of how he will be able to cope with this budget crisis.

“When I served on the Assembly education committee, the then minister, Martin McGuinness, agreed to my request to review what resources were necessary for children with educational difficulties.

“I asked that these resources be ring-fenced so that they would be used directly for the needs of these vulnerable pupils. I will be meeting the Minister Barry Gardiner, along with the Director of Papa (Parents and Professionals for Autism), to look into resource allocation for post-16 pupils and others with special needs.

“I know that there are difficulties within all boards regarding adequate resources, but it would be a shame and disgrace if pupils with special educational needs did not get adequate resources.”

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