Additional Learning Needs (ALN)

The Welsh Government want to transform expectations, experiences and outcomes for children and young people with additional learning needs.

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.

The Welsh Government have developed the ALN Transformation Programme, 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 transformed 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.
 A video that explains the aims of the changes is at the foot of this article. Just as with when applying for a statement of SEN, it is essential that you prepare in advance and make yourself aware of your child's rights under the new legislation so that you can get the best outcome. Other parents may be able to assist with this and a great deal of information is available online.
 The following is taken form the Welsh Government website and explains some issues in more detail, there are also factsheets and other parent focused information held on their site.

The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill, was introduced to the National Assembly for Wales in December 2016. This will create 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. 

Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill was given Royal Assent and became law in January 2018. The act can be found here

The aims of the Bill


Welsh Government summary of the Bill

The introduction of the term Additional Learning Needs (ALN)

The Bill 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 Bill 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 Bill 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.

Increased collaboration

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 Bill 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.

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