Children have additional learning needs if they have difficulties with learning, communication, behaviours (social and/or emotional), and/or a sensory (visual or hearing) and/or physical disability. Schools have a responsibility to identify if a child has an additional learning need, to then notify the parents and to provide the child with the appropriate support that the child needs.
What to do if you think your child needs help in their learning (the Graduated Response)
If you have concerns about your child’s progress, you need to speak to your child’s class teacher to share those concerns. The class teacher will ensure that all learning tasks that are set are appropriately differentiated to enable your child to access the learning.
In the event of your child not making appropriate progress, the class teacher will share their concerns with both you and the school’s Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo). If your child needs something that is ‘in addition to or different from’ that of your child’s classmates, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be agreed with you that will target specific areas of difficulty that your child experiences and that will be reviewed regularly as your child’s needs change. Your child will now be at the ‘School Action’ stage of the Graduated Response.
If, over a reasonable time, the school feel that your child is still not making expected progress, they will ask your permission to consult with specialists who will advise the school how best to meet your child’s needs. Your child will now be at the ‘School Action Plus’ stage of the Graduated Response.
If, over a reasonable time, your child is still not making expected progress, the school will ask your permission to request a Statutory Assessment of your child’s needs. This assessment may involve specialist observations, tests, medicals and interviews with yourself and other specialists. If the assessment shows that your child has significant difficulties, the Local Authority may decide that your child needs a Statement of Special Educational Needs that will clearly identify what your child’s needs are, what help your child should receive and how your child should receive it.
Parent Partnership are there to support you if you think that your child has ALN or if you have been notified by school that your child has ALN.
They will explain your rights within the ALN process and will make sure that you have all of the information that you need to make informed decisions. They can even attend meetings with you. Their contact number is 01352 706840.
Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice and SEN reforms
Reforms to current SEN legislations is underway and the Code of Practice is included in these reforms.
A draft ALN and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill provides an outline of the plans for the legislative changes to be implemented across Wales although the date of the changes has not yet been confirmed.
The draft Bill sets out the proposals for a new legislative system for supporting children and young people (aged 0 – 25 years) who have ALN. The new system will replace the existing system surrounding SEN and the assessment process for children and young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. More information is available on the Welsh Government’s website.
How will I know if my child has additional learning needs (ALN)?
School has a responsibility to monitor your child’s progress and if they feel that your child has additional learning needs they will notify you.
If your child needs something that is ‘different from or in addition to’ their classmates, then the school will invite you to discuss that your child requires an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that will identify how your child’s needs can be met through SMART target-setting (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-oriented). You will be invited to contribute to the target-setting and will be asked to sign the IEP. The IEP will be frequently reviewed in order to move your child’s learning forward.
Does my child need 1:1 support if they have ALN?
Not necessarily. On occasions children do require 1:1 support or ‘shared’ support in order for their needs to be met. However, depending on a child’s needs, access to a small group situation or a specific programme suited to a child’s needs may be of more benefit. It is important that a child is provided with the opportunity to achieve their potential both socially and academically. Therefore all children will be encouraged to develop their independence skills.
Will my child have to go to a special school if they have ALN?
Only a very small percentage of children with ALN attend a specialist provision. In most cases their needs can be met in a mainstream school.
What is a Statutory Assessment?
This is a multi-disciplinary assessment that involves a child being assessed by relevant specialists, having a medical and interviews taking place with the parents to gather information about the child’s needs.
My child has a diagnosis of ASD/ADHD/Dyslexia. Do they need a Statement?
No, not unless your child needs to access specialist provision or a high level of support. All schools have a responsibility to meet a child’s needs and receiving a diagnosis does not actually change the child’s needs. Similarly a child does not require a diagnosis in order to have their needs fully met. A diagnosis can, however, enable a school to access additional training in that specific area if the school feels that it would benefit the child and the staff to do so.
My child has ALN and I want to be sure that their needs are being met in school. What should I do?
You should speak to the class teacher find out what is being done to address your child’s needs. If you feel uncomfortable about doing this, contact Parent Partnership and they will advise and support you to do this. If after speaking to the class teacher you are not satisfied, request a meeting with the ALNCo. If following this you are still dissatisfied, ask to meet with the Head Teacher of the school. The school wants all of its pupils to be happy and to achieve their potential, whatever that might be, and if the school feels that specialist support/advice is needed, they will discuss this with you and ask you to consent to a referral being made to the relevant agency.