The system of allocating teaching resources for pupils with special educational needs, SEN, was revised in June this year following a lengthy period of development and consultation. The revised system comprises two elements: a general weighted element and specified individual allocations.
The general weighted allocation will facilitate primary schools to cater for pupils with higher-incidence SEN, that is, those with borderline mild and mild general learning disability and specific learning disability as well as those with learning support needs. This will obviate the need for schools to submit individual applications for pupils in those categories. Schools may continue to apply for specific teacher allocations in respect of pupils with lower-incidence SEN.
My Department now proposes to devise school clusters in respect of allocations to be made under the weighted model. Sanction for the filling of posts will be considered in the context of these clusters and the weighted arrangements. To facilitate the full introduction of the weighted model from the school year 2005-06, my Department has agreed not to redeploy surplus teachers from full-time posts via the panel redeployment process during the current school year. Schools have also been informed that they may retain excess part-time teaching hours to the extent that such hours are required for children with lower-incidence SEN.
I will continue to work for improvements in the provision of education services for children with special educational needs and in this context will monitor the implementation of the new system to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.