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Explanatory Memorandum to Special Educational Needs and Disability (Northern Ireland) Order 2005

Article 3: Education in ordinary schools of children with special educational needs

14.This Article replaces the existing Article 7 of the 1996 Education Order and strengthens the right to an ordinary school place for children with SEN. This seeks to enable greater inclusion and safeguard the efficient education of all pupils.

15.The new Article 7(2) ensures that pupils with SEN but without a statement are educated in ordinary schools. The new Article 7(3) ensures that pupils with SEN and a statement are educated in ordinary schools unless this would be incompatible with parental choice or with the provision of efficient education for other children. This means a Board does not have to provide an ordinary place where parents do not want one. In practice, incompatibility with the efficient education of others is likely to be where pupils present severe challenging behaviour that would significantly disrupt the learning of other pupils or place their safety at risk.

16.New Article 7A(1) sets out the exceptional circumstances in which a child with SEN but without a statement can be educated at a special school. This is if they are being assessed for a statement, or their circumstances have changed suddenly and the Board of Governors, parents, the Board and (when the child is admitted for an assessment) those providing advice agree.

17.Article 7A(1)(b) provides that regulations can prescribe circumstances in which a child admitted for the purpose of assessment can remain in a special school after the assessment is carried out.

18.Article 7A(2) ensures that the requirement to educate children with SEN in ordinary schools in Article 7 does not affect the parent’s right to express a preference for a grant-aided school (paragraph 5 of Schedule 2) or the provision of special education otherwise than in a grant-aided school (Article 10) in the statement.

19.Article 7A(3) makes it clear that if the Board do not name the parent’s choice of grant-aided school in a statement their choice of school is governed by the provision of Article 7(3).

20.Articles 7A(4) and (5) further strengthen the right to an ordinary place by requiring a school, in order to demonstrate that inclusion would be incompatible with the efficient education of other children, to show that there are no reasonable steps they could take to prevent the inclusion of a child with a statement from having that effect.

21.Article 7A(6) means that if the Board has named a grant-aided school in a statement the school cannot subsequently rely on the exception in Article 7(3)(b).

22.Article 7A(7) requires Boards of Governors of schools and Boards to heed guidance about Article 7 and Article 7A provided by the Department of Education.

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