SEN & Inclusion Overview

Many learners in our classrooms have various special educational needs (SEN) that require differentiated and adapted learning activities. We support teachers as they create a meaningful learning environment that meets these learners’ diverse needs within the context of an inclusive curriculum.

Learners with SEN are educated in a variety of settings. Over 5,000 learners with SEN currently study at 39 special schools in Northern Ireland. These learners have some of the most significant and complex educational needs.

Most learners with SEN, over 70,000, are in mainstream classrooms. This inclusive education addresses barriers to learning and raises standards. These learners have needs that can range from minor or transitory to long-term moderate. Some also have additional barriers to learning, such as being a young carer or having English as a second language.

In January 2019, the Department of Education separated SEN into five overarching categories:

  • Cognition and learning (CL)
  • Social, behavioural, emotional and well-being (SBEW)
  • Speech, language and communication needs (SLCN)
  • Sensory (SE)
  • Physical needs (PN).

For further details, see Recording SEN and Medical Categories – Guidance for Schools.

We provide a range of SEN support for all educational settings, including:

  • teaching and learning resources;
  • adapted materials and support for learners taking qualifications;
  • professional development materials;
  • guidance documents;
  • advice on the curriculum; and
  • links to information from key organisations.