SEAG Special Circumstances & Special Provision


If your child was hampered with a medical issue or something else that affected their outcome during the testing time, there are two possible routes where you get the chance to explain the challenges your child faced and request that the post-primary take these personal circumstances into consideration to ensure your child is considered fairly against her known ability.

Special Circumstances will be used if the child was able to sit both tests and has a ‘Statement Of Outcome’ and Special Provision will be used if the child was not able to sit any tests or only able to sit one test and has a result with an ‘e’ on the end, which stands for estimated.

In summary, the two options are:

  • Special Circumstances – used if the child was able to sit both tests
  • Special Provision – used when the child did not sit any tests or only sat one test

It’s important to note that the Board Of Governors at each post-primary school you wish to apply to, will consider your Special Circumstances / Provision evidence, so you you need to familiarise yourself with the admission criteria (available in mid-January) for each school and understand how they manage Special Circumstances and Special Provision requests.

Examples For Special Circumstances / Special Provision

Below are some examples, (taken from the special circumstances guidance document), that go some way to demonstrate the types of situations that could lead to a Special Circumstances or Special Provision case.

Possible reasons include (not exhaustive):

  • Temporary illness or accident or injury at the time of the Entrance Assessment
  • Bereavement of an immediate family member at the time of the Entrance Assessment
  • Serious and disruptive crisis at home, arising at the time of the Entrance Assessment
  • Serious disturbance during the Entrance Assessment
  • Failure by the post-primary school to implement previously agreed Access Arrangements
  • Terminal illness of a parent/guardian
  • Life threatening illness of the child or member of immediate family
  • Recent traumatic experience such as death of a close friend or relative
  • Flare-up of severe congenital conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, severe asthmatic attack
  • Recent serious physical assault

Types Of Evidence Needed

During both processes, you’ll need to provide TWO different sets of independent, verifiable evidence:

  1. Firstly, normally, medical evidence but can be anything that supports your claim of the issue that impacted your child’s ability to perform to their optimum.
  2. Educational evidence to show your child’s normal, academic ability supported by the primary school.

The Board of Governors will use both sets of evidence to make an estimate on the likely outcome your child would’ve achieved if they weren’t thrown off with the issue you’re declaring. This estimate will be based on all the evidence presented, so needless to say, sufficient and complete evidence is very important.

When To Apply

You can’t apply now, but you’ll need apply for Special Circumstances / Provision when you’re completing the post-primary transfer form through the Education Authority (EA) Portal some time between opening on the 30th January 2024 and closing on the 22nd February 2024.

Collect Your Evidence Now

Although you’re not going to need the evidence until the end of January 2024, I can’t stress this point enough but now is the time to collect all the evidence and start to pull your case together.

If you leave this task too long, witnesses or professionals will likely forget about the significance and true impact of the situation, so it’s always best to be timely with these matters and collect all the paperwork now before it’s too late or professionals change job roles etc.

You Don’t Always Need To Apply For Special Circumstances

Results are received a few days before the EA Portal opens and if your child receives their result (from both tests) and they do well, you might consider your child performed at their actual ability and so you don’t have to apply for Special Circumstances.

You only need to apply when you feel your child has underperformed against their normal level and the issue knocked their performance and you want the Board Of Governors at the post-primary to be aware of this during the selection process. If you do progress with Special Circumstances, don’t forget you’ll need evidence of the issue and educational evidence to back up your claim.

Is Special Provision Always Needed If Child Sat One Test?

Although Special Provision seems similar to Special Circumstances (in this case anyway), it’s also slightly different and within the Special Provision process, there’s an option for the post-primary school to arrange a further assessment (test) if the child’s academic ability cannot be sufficiently evidenced. Post-primary schools running their own assessment often happens in cases where a child didn’t live in Northern Ireland when the SEAG test happened, so it’s certainly not unheard of.

But try not to worry at this point, because we don’t know how the post-primary schools will consider the single score with the ‘e’ result and this will only become known within the admission criteria (published mid-January). In addition, each post-primary school could treat this ‘e’ score differently, so you’ll need to do your homework and read the admission criteria for all potential post-primary schools when the time comes.

In addition, you might feel the single ‘e’ score isn’t a true reflection of your child’s academic ability and in that case you’ll need to apply via Special Provision process.

For now the advise is clear, collect all your evidence ‘just in case’.

How To Apply

If you decide to proceed with your claim for Special Circumstances or Special Provision you should:

  1. Read the guidance notes (can be downloaded below) for the appropriate route for you.
  2. Complete the associated form (can be downloaded below).
  3. Gather your medical (or other) evidence to explain and prove what happened.
  4. Gather your educational evidence to support a case for your child’s academic ability.
  5. Send all documentation and evidence to the post-primary schools via the EA Portal (opens 30th January 2024) and this is now within the normal, Department Of Education Post-Primary Transfer Process and nothing to do with SEAG anymore (they just administer the test).

How Does The Post Primary School Manage Claims?

The Boards of Governors (or their delegated sub-committees) have a duty to examine all of the claims for Special Circumstances / Special Provision and decide on their merit and the adjustment, if any, to be applied to the Result Band / Total Standardised Age Score (TSAS) achieved in the SEAG Entrance Assessment.

Each school which receives your claim for Special Circumstances will make its own independent adjudication on your claim and this process is carried out before any decisions are taken on the applicants to be selected for admission.

Flowchart – Claiming Special Circumstances

Source: SEAG Special Circumstances Document

Flowchart – Claiming Special Provision

Source: SEAG Special Provision Guidance

Additional Information & Forms

Special Circumstances
Special Provision

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