Special education event at Queen's University, Belfast
A leading education expert has called for an urgent decision on the way forward for the provision of special education in Northern Ireland.
Professor Tony Gallagher was speaking ahead of an international conference which begins in Belfast on Monday.
Over 300 leading educationalists from around the world are due to attend.
Professor Gallagher said special education was one of the most popular areas of study for teachers and had become a key priority for schools.
The Inclusive and Supportive Education Congress (ISEC), which will be held at Queen's University, takes place every five years.
It focuses on ensuring that all pupils, regardless of circumstances, are able to participate fully in education.
Professor Gallagher said that it would provide vital evidence to the Northern Ireland Assembly which is attempting to decide how to respond to a key review on special education carried out by the Department of Education.
Lorraine Peterson, chief executive of the National Association for Special Education Needs (Nasen) said the event would be "invaluable" for practitioners and experts across the globe.