Children and Young People Education

New Publication: Additional Learning Needs (ALN) in Wales

07 December 2016

Article by Michael Dauncey, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

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On Tuesday 13 December 2016, the Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies, is due to make a statement in Plenary on the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill. The Bill is expected to be laid in the Assembly the day before (Monday 12 December). The following article (10 November 2016), which summarises our publication ‘Additional Learning Needs (ALN) in Wales’, is being re-posted in advance of this.

blog-engThe anticipated Bill will replace the current Special Educational Needs (SEN) framework with a reformed system based on Additional Learning Needs (ALN).

This Research Briefing (PDF, 893KB) provides background information to inform preparations for the Bill and the Assembly’s scrutiny of an issue which has been at the forefront of stakeholders’, policymakers’, and of course families’, minds for many years.

The paper gives an overview of the existing SEN framework, explains current provisions and processes, and charts the journey of review and reform that has taken place throughout much of the Assembly’s lifetime, most recently the consultation on a draft Bill in 2015. Data on the numbers of learners with SEN/ALN and their academic achievement is also included, along with statistics on funding.

There are currently 105,000 – that’s 1 in every 5 – pupils in Wales who are identified as having SEN/ALN. £362 million is budgeted each year for provision to support them and meet their needs. However, the Welsh Government recognises that the system is ‘not fit for purpose’ and reform is long overdue.

The Welsh Government consulted on a draft Bill in 2015 and published a summary of the 263 responses it received. This showed that stakeholders had concerns about the legislative proposals in their draft form and will be expecting an improved Bill this time around. Many of the issues raised, such as duties on local authorities and health boards to collaborate, provision at early years and post-16, and arrangements for disagreement avoidance and dispute resolution, echoed those highlighted during the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Bill in late 2015.

The Research Briefing has been timed to complement Assembly Members’ scrutiny of the forthcoming Bill and general consideration of this important issue, which affects families throughout Wales.

New Publication: Additional Learning Needs (ALN) in Wales (PDF, 893KB)