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Report on Consultation with Students in Further & Higher Education

In October 2002 the Consultation Document on the Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill was published and circulated in Northern Ireland by the Department of Employment and Learning and the Department of Education. The consultation ended on 31st January 2003.

Skill Northern Ireland facilitated student consultation events in Belfast, Cookstown and Limavady. Their responses are included in the Report on Consultation with Students in Further and Higher Education, which you can download from here. [Word document, opens in a new window]

Draft Legislation is planned for mid-2004 and the timescale for implementation has now slipped until at least September 2005.

[Posted 17th March 2003]

Special Educational Needs and Disability legislation in Northern Ireland

Background to the proposed legislation:

In Great Britain

In Northern Ireland

In Great Britain

The Disability Rights Task Force (DRTF) was established in December 1997 to advise on how best to deliver the Government's manifesto commitment to comprehensive and enforceable civil rights for disabled people. Its job was to look at the full range of issues that affect disabled people's lives and to advise the Government on what further action it should take to promote comprehensive and enforceable civil rights.
One key outcome was that the DRTF made several recommendations regarding Education, which was previously excluded from the Disability Discrimination Act (1995).
As a result, the DfES launched a Consultation process for GB regarding Special Educational Needs and Disability. The resulting legislation amends the DDA to this effect and in practice becomes Part IV of the Act (Part II covers Employment and Part III Goods, Facilities and Services).
This covers GB only at present. Passed in Sept 2001, implementation began in Sept 2002 and the final phase, which contains the most stringent physical access measures, will be introduced in Sept 2005.

To find out more about what is happening in the rest of the UK, where the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act was implemented in September 2002, please visit
Skill's DDA resources page. Also look at these guides:
DEMOS project - Online Materials for Staff Disability Awareness
SWANDS Project - University of Plymouth (SENDA Compliance in HE)

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In Northern Ireland

'The Programme for Government commits the Executive to the promotion of equality of opportunity and human rights for all citizens…. Provision is made for the development of a strategy to implement the executive's response to the DRTF's recommendations…. More specifically, the Programme for Government also provides for the introduction of new legislation to promote disability rights in schools and further and higher education.'
The objectives being:
'to give school pupils and students in Northern Ireland the same rights with regard to access to schools and further and higher education institutions as exist in other parts of the United Kingdom' and
legislation that 'meets the particular needs of Northern Ireland'.

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The Consultation Process:

- Lead Departments are the Department of Education and the Department for Employment and Learning

- Began Autumn 2002

- Ended 31st January 2003

- Skill Northern Ireland also facilitated student consultation events in Belfast, Cookstown and Limavady

- The next stage will be a Draft Order

Useful links:
Department of Education
Department for Employment and Learning
Equality Commission

[Updated 4th June 2003]

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