Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Wednesday, 13 June 2012 13:52 UK

Education Committee

Teachers will not be asked to complete tasks beyond their qualifications when changes to how special education needs are allocated come into effect, the education minister said on 13 June 2012.

John O'Dowd was addressing the education committee on the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Review which began two-and-a-half years ago.

The government is only now bringing forward its plans, to change what is described as out-of-date legislation.

The changes include the ending of "statements" which guarantee extra help to pupils with special needs.

Mr O'Dowd said there was a need to get any changes right.

"We are dealing with some of the most vulnerable young people in our society who deserve to be given a chance at education," he added.

He said the British Psychological Society (BPS) would be providing training to teachers, offering them a recognised qualification, meaning they would be specialists in assessing children.

However, the minister emphasised: "Teachers will be carrying out educational assessments, they will not be asked to carry out any health assessments or any other assessments beyond their qualifications."

Department of Education official Irene Murphy said a certificate of competence in educational testing, accredited by the BPS, was being run as a pilot, and teachers from schools across all five boards had been trained.

The SDLP Sean Rogers said such a certificate of competence would be up-skilling teachers to the level of an educational psychologist.

"One could cynically say that really we need more educational psychologists on the system as well," he said.

Education committee membership

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