HC Deb 11 February 2004 vol 417 cc1519-20W
Mr. Dodds

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps he is taking to ensure that children with special educational needs have those needs met in the education sector in Northern Ireland. [152587]

Jane Kennedy

Some 10,600 pupils in Northern Ireland have statements of Special Educational Need (or attend Special Schools and are in the process of being statemented). The vast majority of these pupils have their Special Educational Needs (SEN) met within Northern Ireland. Currently there are only 34 pupils whose SEN are met outside Northern Ireland.

Most of these 34 pupils have sensory impairments or behavioural difficulties/autism and attend very specialist provision elsewhere to meet their needs, where the placements are in accordance with the wishes of the parents.

A Sub group of the Education and Library Boards' Regional Strategy Group for Special Education is currently considering the range of local provision required to meet the needs of hearing impaired pupils. The Department is represented on this Sub group.

The proposed Centre of Excellence for Autism in Middletown will aim to enhance local training for schools and teachers and educational intervention for pupils with autism.