Northern Ireland

Special needs: Proposed nursery hours cut suspended

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Plans to cut the hours of children who attend nursery in special schools have been suspended pending a review, a Stormont committee has heard.

The Education Authority (EA) had proposed that children receive 2.5 hours a day in schools that offer pre-school provision rather than 4.5 hours.

The plans were due to come into effect from September 2016.

The review was requested by Education Minister John O'Dowd who described the decision as "flawed".

Officials from the EA appeared before Stormont's Education Committee on Wednesday.

Dr Claire Mangan said that the review would be completed within a short period of time.

"Obviously, until the EA board has the information that they will require, we are not moving forward with part-time," she said.

UUP MLA Sandra Overend said she could not understand how the minister did not know of the proposed cuts.

"Do you know how he didn't know?" she asked Dr Mangan.

"I can't answer that," Dr Mangan replied.

The EA's proposed cut in hours would have affected 29 special schools in Northern Ireland.

The EA had said that the move was "designed to increase the opportunity for children to access special schools places".

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