The SEND legislation was intended to come into force following the SENDA Bill in the rest of the UK, which improved the rights of people with disabilities and Special Educational Needs. However, due to the suspension of the N.I. Assembly, the bill will not now become law this year.
When the legislation is passed, it will strengthen the rights of children with SEN to be educated in mainstream schools, where it is the wish of parents and where it will not impair the interests of other children.
It will also require more information to be given to parents when a school is considering special educational provision for children; more information and rights on appeal procedures will also be made available.
This information need not be provided by the Education Boards themselves but parents should be given full details of advisory services available to them whether public or private.
There are plans to have an independent conciliation service for parents who have disputes with the education service.
Schools will not be able to treat pupils less favourably, for a reason that relates to their disability. Schools will be required to make reasonable adjustments so that pupils with disabilities are not at a disadvantage. Plans will have to be made to improve accessibility to premises and to the curriculum to enable pupils with disabilities to be further integrated.