Do I have to pay for advice from SENAC?

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 free of charge thanks to the kind donations and fundraising activities run by our supporters. Thank you also goes to the Grant making bodies who have given their support to carry out specific areas of our work.

Awards for all

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Garfield Weston Foundation

Halifax Foundation for NI

National Lottery Community Fund

St James Place Charitable Foundation

The Edward Gostling Foundation

Ulster Garden Villages

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. A parent(s) 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 Click here to request a free Information Pack

Allocation of Educational Psychology time in school

Each mainstream school in Northern Ireland is currently allocated a number of hours per annum 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


  • 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 on your child’s statement. Our Parent Information Pack contains guidelines on the Annual Review process or you can request our fact sheet on Annual 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

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

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 Useful Reading page http://useful-reading.

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’s Comment and complaints procedure below

EA Comments and Complaints Leaflet