SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has said that the Education Authority must find school places for children with special education needs (SEN).
He was speaking after it emerged that over 800 children with SEN are still waiting on confirmation of a school or nursery place for next year.
Mr McCrossan said the situation was placing huge strain on families and said they needed immediate clarity on the situation.
West Tyrone MLA Mr McCrossan said:
“It’s deeply frustrating that families with SEN children are finding themselves in this situation year after year and nothing is being done to address it. The problem is only getting worse, the demand for places is growing ever higher and parents are being put in a terrible position, left worrying until the last minute about when and where their child will be allocated a place. Some children have even had their school places withdrawn, with no communication or clarity from the Education Authority about the next steps, further compounding parents' distress. That's simply not good enough.
“Starting a new school can be a particularly challenging experience for children and young people with SEN and the best way to support them would be allocating them a place at the first opportunity, allowing both them and their parents time to prepare them for the change to their lives. Instead they are left in limbo, causing serious strain and anxiety for all involved.
“It’s clear that if we are going to deal with this issue in the long-term then we need to invest in our education system to allow it to properly meet the needs of children with SEN. This includes everything from properly resourcing our schools to allow them to welcome more SEN pupils and to provide extra support to special schools. In the meantime, the Education Authority needs to do everything in their power to find places for these children and end this uncertainty for them and their families.”