Please copy and forward the following email to highlight your concerns regarding the new Educational Assessment Process for Assessment of Need.
This is intended as a template, please feel free to edit.
Dear NCSE Managers, Minister Foley and Minister Madigan,
I am writing to share my concerns regarding the new Educational Assessment Process as part of the AON.
On October 20th, The Department of Education announced that the NCSE would be nominating an 'appropriate person to carry out an assessment of educational needs on behalf of the HSE under the AON process'. Furthermore, a note was issued to schools to inform them of their new 'role and responsibilities' in this process.
This is concerning for several reasons:
1) Schools have been advised to use the student's SSP as a basis for this assessment. An SSP is not an Assessment of Educational Need. It is a short term plan in which targets/goals are set for the student. The SSP would now become a legal document despite the failure to enact EPSEN 2004.
2) Teachers and Principals are not Educational Psychologists by profession. They do not necessarily have the qualifications to complete the assessment as intended under Disability Act 2005. SET skills and training vary massively between teachers and schools. I fear this could result in inaccurate and inappropriate diagnosis leading to further legal challenges of AON. I would ask: How do NCSE define 'appropriately qualified'?
3) Schools do not have the Resources to complete the paperwork involved. SET will be tasked with completing this paperwork which will result in less time in the classroom with children with additional educational needs. This is not a position our children or teachers should be forced into.
4) The professional judgement of principals and teachers is questioned via Exceptional Review when the need for additional SNA or SET support is identified. These reviews are arduous and often unsuccessful. How can the NCSE justify valuing the judgement of staff in one scenario but not another?
I urge you, as a parent/carer or family member of a child with SEN and as an ally to teachers around the country. to re-examine this decision immediately.