Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD has today announced the commencement of a full review of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004. The EPSEN Act provides for the education of children aged under 18 years with special educational needs.
The purpose of the review is to ensure that legislation on education for students with additional needs is up-to-date, fully operational, and reflective of the lived experiences of students and families.
This important review of legislation will begin in January 2022 with the establishment of a Steering group and Advisory Group to oversee the process. Collaboration and consultation will be at the heart of the review and all stakeholders will be invited to engage with the process.
There will be a formal consultation process as early as possible in the process as well as input at all stages from the Advisory Group, which will include representatives of key stakeholders, including parent and advocacy groups. It is envisaged the full review will be completed by early 2023.
Minister Madigan has also asked the Department of Education to review the operation of section 37A of the Education Act 1998 which deals with school placements for children with special educational needs.
Minister Madigan said:
“I am committed to ensuring that every child receives an education that is rights-based and allows them to achieve their full potential. The EPSEN Act 2004 is now in place for more than 17 years and there have been many significant changes and developments to policy relating to the education of children with special needs in that time. It is important that we take full account of developments over the last two decades, to ensure that our legislation reflects current best practice, both nationally and internationally.
“I have already put on record that reviewing and updating our laws relating to special education is a priority for me as Minister, and while it is important for this to happen as soon as possible, I also want this review to be as effective as it can be. It is important we take into account the existing policy framework, legislative concerns and examine existing information and research. We also want to hear from a wide range of stakeholders to help us. Ultimately we want our legislation to facilitate the best possible education and outcomes for children with special needs at all stages of their education.”