Skip to main content

Learning Disabilities

Volume 403: debated on Monday 7 April 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made by the inter-departmental working group to develop a strategy for the support of people with learning disabilities in Northern Ireland. [107439]

The Inter Department Group on the transition of young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) into the world of employment, training or further education has met on two occasions and examined a number of key areas, including:

options open to school leavers with SEN and associated gaps in provision,
barriers that exist in terms of the benefits available to disabled school leavers on entering employment or training,
difficulties in the Statutory Transition planning process and
voluntary sector involvement.

The Working Group will meet again shortly. Individual Departments have progressed work as follows:

The Department of Education has met with and subsequently invited several voluntary groups to contribute to the Inter Departmental Group's work in order to develop a model of best practice.
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has met parents and carers to listen first hand to their experiences and concerns at meetings facilitated through a number of voluntary organisations.
The Department for Employment and Learning has collated information to help inform the group and assist them to consider how to tackle the key issues of transition and provision for leavers of Special Schools.

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in bringing forward new legislation on special educational needs and disability in Northern Ireland. [107440]

The consultation process on proposals for legislation which will enhance the educational opportunities of children and young people in Northern Ireland with special educational needs and disabilities has been completed. Consideration is currently being given to the content of such legislation in light of the responses to the consultative document and views expressed at consultation meetings. It is expected that draft legislation will be issued before the Summer and this will be the subject of further consultation. It is intended to introduce an Order in Council at Westminster or a Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly towards the end of 2003, with a view to beginning implementation of the legislation in September 2004.