This bill published 16th July 2003 aims to give detailed provision in law so that the educational needs of persons with disabilities can be met. The legislation is intended to ensure that these children will be able ‘to leave school with the skills necessary to live independent and fulfilled lives.’
The main aims of the Bill are:
- Parents to have a central role in all, important decisions concerning the education of their children.
- Integrated, inclusive education to be the general approach to the education of children with special needs
- Assessment of a child to be provided up to the age of 18; assessments to take a whole-child, holistic approach.
- A child with an assessed educational disability is to have a detailed and goals driven individual education plan, which is to be regularly reviewed.
- health boards, in the case of a pre-school child, and the National Council for Special Education in the case of a school-going child, to have a duty in law to provide the services identified in an assessment or an education plan which are necessary for the child to access and benefit from education.
- The National Council for Special Education is to be established as the agency with primary responsibility to implement the legislation and with a membership drawn from a range of interests with a special interest in or knowledge of the education of children with disabilities, including people with disabilities.
- The Council will have the power to designate a school or centre for education which a child with special educational needs is to attend.
- An accessible and efficient appeals system is to be established.
- The appeals process will not restrict any right a parent has to seek redress in the courts if the provisions of the Bill are not implemented.
- A statutory duty is imposed on the relevant Ministers to make resources available to schools for the provision of adequate and appropriate education to children with special educational needs, with policy making in this respect based on key principles relating to respect for constitutional rights and equitable treatment of all children in resource allocation.
- The policies and operations of the various agencies engaged in delivering education related services are to be coordinated and consistent.
National Disability Association Response (pdf)