FAQs

Do I have to pay for advice from SENAC?

No. SENAC have been able to provide a free advice service to parents since 2003, thanks to our funders and the generosity of the public.

The only cost to a parent is the price of a phone call.

How are SENAC funded?

SENAC are able to provide our services thanks to donations, fundraising activities and grants awarded for specific areas of our work from the following funders:

Children in Need

Community for Justice Fund

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Garfield Weston Foundation

The National Lottery Community Fund

Are SENAC connected to the Education Authority?

No. SENAC is an independent charity that offers advice and advocacy on all aspects of the statutory framework of SEN provision in Northern Ireland. We receive no statutory funding.

Can I request a Statutory Assessment for my child?

Yes. Parents can request a statutory assessment for their child. The Education Authority (EA) will determine whether or not to carry out the assessment. They will take into account action already taken by the school and evidence from the school and the parents. If the EA decides it is not necessary to carry out an assessment the reasons will be explained. A parent has the right to appeal this decision.

Further information on the Statementing process and the five stages of the special educational needs process is available in our free Information Pack. If you would like a copy posted out to you Click here

Is there an allocation of Educational Psychology time in school?

Each mainstream school in Northern Ireland is currently allocated a number of hours each year for consultation and assessment with the Educational Psychologist (EP) under what is commonly referred to as the ‘Time Allocation Model for EP Service support for schools. This is mostly but not exclusively for children at Stage 3 of the statutory Special Educational Needs Support Framework.

These allocated hours do not include the involvement, time or assessment of an EP required for the consideration or conducting of a Statutory Assessment (Stage 4). This is wholly the statutory responsibility of the Education Authority. Educational Psychology for Statutory Assessment is separate and additional to the hours allocated to schools under the Time Allocation Model.

No school will lose any contact/referral or assessment hours with the EP for children requiring Stage 3 provision or assessment because of a parental or school request for statutory assessment.

This information has been confirmed to SENAC by the Education Authority March 2018

REMEMBER:

  • If you or your school have been told that the EP’s time for statutory assessment will be deducted from the annual allocation of hours for Stage 3 provision, this is not correct, and we would urge you to inform the EA.
  • If your school believes that by requesting statutory assessment they will lose time with the EP and other children at Stage 3 cannot be referred or brought to consultation, this is not correct, and we would urge you to ask the school to confirm the correct position with the EA.

Should I attend my child’s Annual Review?

Yes. It is important for a parent(s) to attend and contribute to an Annual Review. The Annual Review is a review of your child’s Statement of special educational needs. Decisions can be taken at a Review which may impact your child’s statement click here for further information about annual reviews including transition reviews

Click here to request a free Information Pack

I believe my child is falling behind in school. His teacher says he is fine. What should I do?

The most important thing is to build a good relationship with your child’s teacher. Express your concerns and ask if there is anything you can do at home that would complement the work in the classroom. SENAC can advise you specifically on your child’s situation, if you feel you would like guidance ring SENAC’s Advice Line contact-us

I have a meeting with my child’s School, can I bring someone along for support?

Yes. It can be very useful to bring someone along with you to a meeting. This will not only give you support but they can also take notes and if they have a copy of your questions they can remind you if you have forgotten to ask something. It is advisable to inform the school if you are bringing someone with you. In the DENI Code of Practice it states that parents may bring along a friend, relative or adviser to Annual Review meetings. To download a copy of the Code of Practice go to our Advice page

What experience and or training do the Advisors have?

Our advisors receive a full training programme and ongoing support from SENAC staff and management. Volunteers come from a range of relevant backgrounds and all have either personal or professional experience of the SEN system in Northern Ireland.

I wish to complain about a decision or action of the Education Authority(EA) what should I do?

If you are dissatisfied with an action or lack of action or about the standard of service provided by or on behalf of the EA, you can make a complaint in person, by telephone, in writing, by email or online. See EA Comments and Complaints Leaflet

Advice Line 028 9079 5779

For advice about your child’s education please contact our Advice Line to speak to one of our advisers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic the Advice Line will continue to operate its usual hours from 10am to 1pm Monday Tuesday and Wednesday.

For the foreseeable future, all calls to SENAC will go through this number so for all other enquiries please also ring us on 028 9079 5779 Monday to Friday from 10am -1pm

Contact us

Graham House,
Knockbracken Healthcare Park,
Saintfield Road, Belfast BT8 8BH.

Office Enquiries: 028 9070 5654
Office Email: info@senac.co.uk

Office email cannot be used for advice queries, for education advice please contact our Advice Line

Limited Company No. NI48698
Charity No. NIC101355

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