The Welsh Government has introduced a new law, The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018. The aim is to have a single system relating to support given to children and young people who have additional learning needs (ALN) and are receiving education and/or training.
This website will provide advice and information about ALN, the new ALN system and what these changes will mean for children, young people and their families.
The Additional Learning Needs Code for Wales 2021
The ALN Code was issued in 2021 to support the implementation of the new Act. It provides clear, statutory guidance about the ALN system for local authorities, school governing bodies, further education institutes (FEI) and health boards to follow. The Code outlines the duties on these bodies when the possibility that a child or young person who may have ALN comes to their attention.
The Code sets out the duty on maintained schools and FEIs to designate an Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo) who is responsible for ensuring the needs of children with ALN are met. This role is similar to the previous role of Special Educational Needs coordinator (SENCo).
All health boards are required to have a Designated Education Clinical Lead Officer (DECLO). They are responsible for coordinating the health board duties under the new system.
The definition of Additional Learning Needs (ALN):
(1) A person has additional learning needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability (whether the learning difficulty or disability arises from a medical condition or otherwise) which calls for additional learning provision (ALP).
(2) A child of compulsory school age or person over that age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she:
(a) has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
(b) has a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities for education or training of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream maintained schools or mainstream institutions in the further education sector.
(3) A child under compulsory school age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she is, or would be if no additional learning provision were made, likely to be within subsection (2) when of compulsory school age.
The definition of Additional Learning Provision (ALP):
(1) “Additional learning provision” for a person aged three or over means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age in:
(a) mainstream maintained schools in Wales,
(b) mainstream institutions in the further education sector in Wales, or
(c) places in Wales at which nursery education is provided.
(2) “Additional learning provision” for a child aged under three means educational provision of any kind.
Consideration and deciding ALN
The greater majority of children and young people in Flintshire will have their educational needs and ALN identified, met and monitored within mainstream schools or local FEIs. This will be through differentiation and access to appropriate strategies and targeted interventions within a universal offer of high quality education.
If the possibility of ALN is brought to the attention of a school or FEI, they must consider and decide whether the child or young person does have ALN, which requires ALP. Schools have 35 school days to decide and if ALN is agreed, prepare the Individual Development Plan (IDP). In cases where Flintshire County Council is required to make the decision, there is a 12 week timeframe to decide and prepare an IDP where ALN is agreed. Both of these timescales are subject to there being no exceptional circumstances which may result in a delay.
If you are concerned about your child’s progress and you think they may have ALN that requires ALP, talk to your child’s teacher or the ALN Coordinator (ALNCo) at your child’s school. A child or young person can also make a request themselves.
If a child or young person needs ALP through the medium of Welsh, the school, FEI or Flintshire County Council must take all reasonable steps to secure the provision. Flintshire County Council is committed to securing the best outcomes for all children including those with ALN though our educational provision and will make all reasonable attempts to offer specialist services and intervention through the medium of Welsh.
Individual Development Plans – A unified plan
Information about a child or young person’s ALN and ALP is written into an Individual Development Plan (IDP). This is a legal document which describes the individual’s needs and the provision that will be made to help them achieve the desired outcomes.
IDPs will replace a range of educational plans that are currently in place for children and young people who attend school or college. These include Individual Education Plans (IEPs), Statements of Special Education and Learning & Skills Plans. For children and young people who are looked after, the IDP will form part of the individual’s Personal Education Plan (PEP).
Most children and young people with ALN will have their IDPs prepared and maintained by the school or FEI. The ALP required to meet the majority of individual needs will be met through the delegated budgets.
There are some groups of children who will have their IDPs prepared and maintained by Flintshire County Council. These include children with ALN who require ALP and are either ‘Looked After’, Electively Home Educated or registered in more than one setting.
All IDPs will be reviewed at a person-centred review, at least annually. A request to hold a review earlier can be made by any relevant person including the child, their parents or the young person.
The new ALN system places greater focus on putting the child or young person at the heart of the process when planning, identifying their ALN and determining ALP. Local Authorities, schools and FEIs must have regard to the views, wishes and feelings of children, their parents or the young person.
Schools, FEIs and Flintshire County Council will work collaboratively with children, their parents or the young person when deciding on ALN and ALP. Where necessary, relevant services such as social care and health services will also be involved.
There are a range of person-centred tools that schools and Flintshire County Council can use to capture views, wishes and feelings. These tools help support communication, planning and decision making. Information gathered using the tools can be used to develop a One Page Profile, which includes important information under three key headings:
• What people like and admire about me
• What is important to me and
• How best to support me
Person-centred reviews will ensure everyone’s voice is heard, with all relevant information taken into account. Welsh Government has developed this useful guide for families: https://gov.wales/person-centred-reviews-guidance-families
Clear and consistent rights of appeal
It is recognised that sometimes disagreements about decisions may arise. In line with the ALN Code 2021, it is important that these are resolved at the earliest opportunity. If a child, their parent/carer or the young person is not in agreement with school decisions about ALN and ALP, they can request that Flintshire County Council re-considers the matter. Following this re-consideration process, the Council will make a decision. It has 7 weeks to decide and if it is agreed that there are ALN, to prepare an IDP. This timescale is subject to there being no exceptional circumstances which may result in a delay.
All children, their parents/carers and young people have the right to appeal to the Education Tribunal against decisions made by Flintshire County Council or further education institute (FEI) in relation to their ALN or their IDP.
When the school, FEI or Flintshire County Council make a decision about ALN, a letter and leaflet is given, which explains how children, their parents or the young person can exercise their rights.
Families in Flintshire will be able to access the new regional ALN Information and Support Service (ALNISS). This service is provided by SNAP Cymru and will offer impartial information, advice and support for children and their parents or carers and young people who have/or may have additional learning needs. This includes dispute resolution and ALN issue-based advocacy for children and young people. You can find out more about SNAP Cymru at www.snapcymru.org .
Children under compulsory school age
Flintshire County Council has an Early Years Additional Learning Needs Lead Officer (ALNLO). Their role covers children under compulsory school age who do not attend a maintained school. They are responsible for coordinating our Council duties, raising awareness of ALN, and promoting early identification of need.
Flintshire County Council and its schools will use the Eclipse IT system to manage its processes under the new ALN system. Eclipse is being used by three other neighbouring councils which will support a consistent approach across the region.
Moving to the new system
There is a gradual, phased approach to implementation of the new system. Children already known to have special educational needs (SEN) will transition to the new system over a 3-year period. This includes children at School Action, School Action Plus and those with a Statement of SEN.
Welsh Government has identified a timetable for transition to the new system which schools and the Council will have to implement. Part of the process will be firstly to consider and decide whether the child or young person meets the definition of ALN as outlined within the new Act, that is, that they require ALP. Depending on the decision, a letter called a Notice will be sent to the child’s parents or the young person. Where there is agreement that the child/young person has ALN, as defined within the Act, an ‘IDP Notice’ will be sent. Where the decision is that there is no ALN, a ‘No IDP Notice’ will be sent.
For young people, a ‘flow through’ approach is being adopted and they are gradually being moved from the SEN system to the ALN system as follows:
- Those in Year 11 in 2022 to 2023 will move to the ALN system by 31 August 2023
- Those in Year 11 in 2023 to 2024 will move to the ALN system by 31 August 2024
The Education Act 1996 and the Learning and Skills Act 2000 will continue to apply to young people already in Post 16 education.
Flintshire County Council will make decisions for these young people in preparation for their transition to post-compulsory education. The first step is to identify the young person’s desired outcomes and then identify suitable programmes of study, which is a course of further education or training.
For most young people with ALN, they are able to attend local college/Further Education Institution (FEI). The FEI will be responsible for preparing and maintaining an IDP where required.
In a very small number of cases, specialist placement may be required. Flintshire County Council have a duty to first consider programmes of study at mainstream FEI. The ALN Code includes details of the responsibilities placed upon local authorities with regards to placements at independent specialist post-16 institutions (ISPIs).
A young person is entitled to up to 2 years of further education or training. Beyond that, a local authority may determine that a young person has reasonable needs for education or training in particular circumstances.
Information on the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018
Additional Learning Needs Code for Wales 2021