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A significant package of funding will be provided to schools to help them implement the new SEN Framework.

The funding is for the 2021/22 financial year and follows an additional £7.5million which schools received for the period of January to March 2021.

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “I know that schools are under pressure, particularly as they continue to deal with the challenges of the pandemic. As we move towards the implementation of a new SEN Framework, additional legislative requirements could bring an increased financial impact for schools.

“This includes a statutory requirement for each school to have a SENCo and for each pupil with SEN in a school to have a Personal Learning Plan completed.

In recognition of this and to assist schools in preparing for the new arrangements, £22m is being made available for the 2021/22 financial year. This is the first full year where schools will be able to make use of this dedicated resource. Allocations will be made in the coming days.

The public consultation on new draft Special Educational Needs (SEN) Regulations and Code of Practice has finished and responses are currently being analysed. Any proposed changes to the draft regulations will be brought to the Assembly later in the year.

Concluding the Minister said: “It is important that we continue to improve the experiences and outcomes for many of our most vulnerable children and young people.

“The new Framework, combined with ongoing operational improvements by the Education Authority, will ensure effective special educational provision, whilst at the same time reducing unnecessary bureaucracy. This will result in a simpler and more responsive system to support our children with special educational needs.”