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 (CYP):
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.
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:
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.