The Welsh Government aims to transform the expectations, experiences and outcomes for children and young people with additional learning needs.
To do so, they have developed the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) ACT, which will transform the separate systems for Special Educational Needs (SEN) in schools and learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD) in further education, to create a unified system for supporting learners from 0 to 25 with ALN.
The reforms system will:
- Ensure that all learners with ALN are supported to overcome barriers to learning and can achieve their full potential
- Improve the planning and delivery of support for learners from 0 to 25 with ALN, placing learners’ needs, views, wishes and feelings at the heart of the process
- Focus on the importance of identifying needs early and putting in place timely and effective interventions which are monitored and adapted to ensure they deliver the desired outcomes.
New legislation and statutory guidance is only one aspect, albeit a fundamental one, of the wider package of reforms needed. The ALN Transformation Programme also focuses on skills development for the education workforce, to deliver effective support to learners with ALN in the classroom, as well as easier access to specialist support, information and advice.
The aims of the ACT:
The introduction of the term Additional Learning Needs (ALN)
The Act replaces the terms ‘special educational needs’ (SEN) and ‘learning difficulties and/or disabilities’ (LDD) with the new term ALN.
A 0-25 age range
There will be a single legislative system relating to the support given to children and young people aged between 0-25 years who have ALN. This is instead of the two separate systems currently operating to support children and young people of compulsory school age who have SEN; and young people in further education who have LDD.
A unified plan
The Act will create a single statutory plan (the individual development plan (IDP)) to replace the existing variety of statutory and non-statutory SEN or LDD plans for learners in schools and further education.
Increased participation of children and young people
The Act requires that learners’ views should always be considered as part of the planning process, along with those of their parents. It is imperative that children and young people see the planning process as something which is done with them rather than to them.
High aspirations and improved outcomes
The emphasis of IDPs will be on making provision that delivers tangible outcomes that contribute in a meaningful way to the child or young person’s achievement of their full potential.
A simpler and less adversarial system
The process of producing and revising an IDP should be much simpler than is currently the case with statements of SEN.
The new system will encourage improved collaboration and information sharing between agencies, which are essential to ensuring that needs are identified early and the right support is put in place to enable children and young people to achieve positive outcomes.
Avoiding disagreements and earlier disagreement resolution
The new system will focus on ensuring that where disagreements occur about an IDP or the provision it contains, the matter is considered and resolved at the most local level possible.
Clear and consistent rights of appeal
Where disagreements about the contents of an IDP cannot be resolved at the local level, the Act will ensure that children and young people entitled to an IDP (and their parents in the case of those that are under 16 years) will have a right of appeal to a tribunal.
A mandatory Code
The Code will ensure that the new ALN system has a set of clear, legally enforceable parameters within which local authorities and those other organisations responsible for the delivery of services for children and young people with ALN, must act.
Reasons behind the proposed changes:
- Learners have the right to equity of access to education that meets their needs and enables them to participate in, benefit from and enjoy learning.
- The current system for supporting children and young people with SEN and learning difficulties and/or disabilities is based on a model introduced more than 30 years ago that is no longer fit for purpose.
- Under the new system planning will be flexible and responsive; professionals will be more skilled and confident in identifying needs and deploying strategies to help learners overcome their barriers to learning.
- The learner will be at the centre of everything that is done.
How the changes will be implemented
The Additional Learning Needs Transformation programme consists of 5 main themes:
- Legislation and Statutory Guidance
- Implementation/Transition Support
- Workforce Development
- Supporting Policy
1. Legislation and Statutory Guidance
The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act (ALNET Act) was introduced to the National Assembly for Wales on Monday 12 December 2016.
The Act creates the legislative framework to improve the planning and delivery of additional learning provision, through a person-centred approach to identifying needs early, putting in place effective support and monitoring and adapting interventions to ensure they deliver desired outcomes.
2. Implementation/Transition Support
To ensure successful and consistent implementation of the new system, it is essential that services are supported to prepare for the changes ahead and to develop closer multi-agency and cross-sector working practices.
- ALN Innovation Funding: supporting regional partnership projects between Local Authorities, schools, FEIs, specialist providers, health, social services, early years and the third sector
- ALN Strategic Implementation Group: a joint working group between the Welsh Government and Local Authorities, local health boards and the further education sector.
Early 2019 there will be an extensive programme of training and professional development on the basis of the new Code, ahead of the roll-out of the new system.
3. Workforce Development
A skilled workforce is central to the transformation programme and will impact at three levels:
Core Skills Development
- For all practitioners to support a wide range of low, complexity, high incidence ALN within settings/schools and access to ongoing professional development.
- This includes the roll-out of person-centred practice, which is a central aspect of our new approach, across all education settings/schools.
- The Welsh Government is commissioning a training programme to provide a multi agency training package to be rolled out in process of implantation.
Advanced Skills Development
- Through development of the role of ‘Additional Learning Needs Coordinators’ (ALNCos), who will replace current Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCos).
- The Welsh Government is developing a progression pathway for ALNCos.
Specialist Skills Development
- Through national workforce planning system for LA-provided specialist support services available to education settings e.g.educational Psychologist and Teachers of visually or hearing impaired.
It is essential to help all those in the system understand:
- The evidence for best practice
- What can be expected from interventions
- The interventions that are likely to be most effective
- The role of professionals
To help ensure realistic expectations and effective deployment of resources.
Awareness-raising activities in preparation for implementation of the transformed system, focusing on engaging stakeholders about their new legislative duties, and explaining and promoting the system and the rights it confers to children, young people and parents/carers
5. Supporting Policy
It is important not to lose sight of the provision of the effective policy guidance to ensure that good practice is supported and embedded in the current SEN system as well as the future ALN system.
Implementation of the Additional Learning Needs system
The Minister for Education published a statement setting out changes to how and when the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) system is to be implemented.
You can find out more about the ALN Transformation Programme and guidance on the current SEN system here.
Update on the Additional Learning Needs system
The Minister for Education has today provided an update on the phased implementation of the ALN system from September 2021.
You can read the Minister’s statement here and find out more about the ALN transformation programme and guidance on the current SEN system here including our frequently asked questions and ALN transformation programme guide.
An online training course outlining the new unified system for supporting learners with ALN has been published on the Welsh Government’s Hwb platform. The interactive training course gives an introductory overview of the new ALN system, and will help all those involved in the system understand the new legislative duties, and the rights it confers to children, their parents/carers, and young people. We would encourage staff in all sectors who work with children and young people, including school support staff, to undertake this short course. The course may also be of interest to parents and carers.
Welsh Government has now published a summary report on the consultation on representatives for young people, and parents of children, lacking mental capacity. The report can be found here.
Please send any queries to SENReforms@gov.wales
Update on the Additional Learning Needs system
The Minister for Education has today announcedthat the Additional Learning Needs Code and associated regulations have been laid before Senedd Cymru.
You can view the Code, Explanatory Memorandum and Integrated Impact Assessment hereand the associated regulations here:
Further information about the ALN transformation programme and guidance on the current SEN system is available here including our frequently asked questions and ALN transformation programme guide.
Please send any queries to SENReforms@gov.wales