Table of Contents
March 2021 Update
Following approval by the Senedd on March 23rd 2021, the ALN Code under section 4 of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 was issued by the Welsh Ministers as required by section 5(4)(a) of that Act. This Code comes into force on September 1st 2021 as provided for by the Additional Learning Needs Code (Appointed Day) (Wales) Order 2021.
Please note that the Welsh government has been putting forward proposals to revise the system for special needs as far back as 2012. Along the way the proposals have undergone substantial change so it remains necessary to check the very latest published versions of the law and code to see what is actually going to happen, and when, rather than relying on earlier briefing materials or critiques.
Regulations will be published on the Welsh statutory instruments page
February 2021 Update
https://gov.wales/written-statement-implementation-additional-learning-needs-and-education-tribunal-wales-act-2018-0 Minister's statement February 2021:
"Since publication of the plan, Covid has had a significant impact on Wales and I cannot ignore the impact of this on resources available in our schools, pupil referral units, local authorities and our health service. As a result, I have carefully considered my aims for implementing the new system, based on what is reasonably deliverable in the current circumstances.
Therefore from 1 September 2021, the ALN system will commence for children of compulsory school age and below who:
attend maintained schools in Nursery Years 1 and 2 and Year 1, Year 3, Year 5, Year 7 and Year 10) who have special educational provision via school action or school action plus; are detained; and do not have special educational needs on or before that date, regardless of their year group or setting - including those that may attend an EOTAS setting, an independent school or who are electively home educated.
This means that children who currently have special educational provision via a statement and those who are in any form of post-16 education, will not be included in the first year of implementation.
Useful links: https://gov.wales/additional-learning-needs-special-educational-needs; https://gov.wales/additional-learning-needs-transformation-programme-frequently-asked-questions; https://gov.wales/additional-learning-needs-transformation-programme-introduction; e-learning course: An introduction to the new additional learning needs system in Wales via https://hwb.gov.wales/
September 2020 Timetable Statement
https://gov.wales/additional-learning-needs-transformation-programme-timeline published September 3rd 2020.
Minister Kirsty Williams said on September 3rd that the ALN code and associated regulations would be laid before the Senedd in February 2021.
September 2019 Delay Announced
The statutory roles created by the ALN Act are to commence in January 2021 but the new ALN system will commence, on a phased basis, from September 2021. The Code and regulations will be laid for National Assembly approval in 2020. An updated version of the implementation guide will be issued in due course. There will be a separate consultation on draft regulations under the ALN Act, relating to independent specialist post-16 institutions. LINK
June 2019 Code Consultation Response
On June 14th 2019 the Welsh Government published its consultation response which included the following: "Next steps: The responses to the consultation have raised a huge number of issues that now require detailed consideration to determine what changes to make to the Code and regulations. Once this consideration is complete, it is intended that the Welsh Government will lay a revised draft of the ALN Code before the National Assembly for its approval later in 2019. At the same time, it is intended that various regulations (some in draft form) to be made under the Act will be laid, including those consulted on as part of this consultation. The laying of the ALN Code and regulations will be accompanied by the publication of the relevant explanatory memoranda and impact assessments. Subject to the National Assembly’s approval of the ALN Code, it is expected to be issued before the end of 2019 with the new ALN system implemented over a period of three years beginning in September 2020."
Picking up on the point made in my response, the consultation summary noted "respondents felt that the guidance that is contained in Chapter 23 of the draft ALN Code relating to children and young people in specific circumstances was appropriate. However, the majority of respondents also felt that some of the guidance needed further clarification and detail practically the on roles and responsibilities around education other than at school (EOTAS) and elective home education (EHE)"
Update April 2019
The Children, Young People and Education Committee (Wales) receives regular updates from the Welsh Government on the implementation of the additional learning needs (ALN) transformation programme. REFERENCE
CONSULTATION ON NEW ALN CODE closed March 22nd 2019, I responded to say that it was unnecessarily difficult to find information about home education in the new Code. (Consultation also covered draft regulations relating to the Education Tribunal for Wales and ALN co-ordinators; and revisions to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 Part 6 Code of Practice – Looked After and Accommodated Children.) Read more here
2018 Consultation on Code
At the end of November 2018 the Welsh Government said there would be a consultation on an as yet unseen NEW draft of the ALN code in December, adding that the final draft will then need approval by the National Assembly for Wales, as set out in the Act, before it can be issued, anticipated as being in the latter part of 2019.
"In most cases, EOTAS learners will be the responsibility of the local authority who will be under a duty, where appropriate, to decide if the child or young person in EOTAS has ALN and if they have, to prepare and maintain an IDP for them. The Welsh Government has begun liaising with the sector via the EOTAS Delivery Group to develop proposals on how the ALN transformation will support EOTAS learners (including those who attend pupil referral units), with ALN, to help ensure that they reach their full potential. Further details of these proposals will form part of the consultation on the ALN Code. LINK
2017: Bill Becomes 2018 Act
The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 passed into law at the end of 2017. NB not all sections of the Act will come into force at the start; for example the Social Services and Wellbeing Act took 2 years
The Welsh Government ran into difficulties over costings, following concerns raised by SNAP Cymru about dispute resolution and appeals. It has been reported that anticipated savings are down from £14.2 million to £3.7 million. The Welsh Government had to delay moving the financial resolution, see Record of Proceedings June 6 2017
A Revised Explanatory Memorandum was published in November 2017 including an Impact Assessment, from which the following extract is taken "Section 24 enables a child or their parent, or the young person, to request that a local authority (which is responsible for the child or young person) reconsiders the decision of a maintained school governing body that a child or young person has or does not have ALN. Where requested, the local authority must make its own decision on the issue; that decision will then replace the decision of the governing body, and the previous decision made by the governing body will cease to have effect. Before making a decision, the local authority must inform the governing body of the request and invite representations from the governing body. This section provides children and their parents, and young people, with an effective means of challenging the decision of the governing body of a maintained school in Wales, in the absence of a right of appeal to the Tribunal against these bodies"
2016 Moving On From Draft Bil
In July 2016 the Welsh Government published a commentary on responses to the 2015 Additional Learning Needs consultation. At the same time, Alun Davies, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language noted "misunderstandings of our intentions or the anticipated practical impact of our proposals" as well as "direct concerns about specific aspects of the proposals" I blogged what parents were saying here
2015 Draft Bill
In Wales, the term "special educational needs" [SEN] has been replaced by "additional learning needs" [ALN].
In July 2015 the Welsh Government launched a consultation on the Draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill. Comments were requested by December 2015. A new draft Additional Learning Needs Code of Practice was also published at the end of September 2015.
The proposals in the draft Bill largely follow the proposals set out in the 2014 White Paper, notably a single category of 'Additional Learning Needs' to replace Statements, School Action, and School Action Plus.
Archived page as pdf with full details of these earlier proposals here which have now been superseded.
Sinclair Law consultation response 2015, Mike Charles LINK highlighted the danger of removing the statutory assessment leaving a general requirement upon schools to identify need as opposed to to a prescribed system of expert assessments. Welsh Government clarification November 2015: " In the case of those learners whose needs are complex and severe, the draft Bill would empower schools to refer cases to local authorities as needed ..." Sinclair Law comment December 2015 LINK "this proposed bill, if passed, will not only send schools into battle with parents, but will most certainly lead to potential litigation.
Social Welfare Law Wales
SOCIAL WELFARE LAW IN WALES including Overview Briefing Social Services and Wellbeing Act Wales 2014, Luke Clements, updated September 2017: "The ‘headline’ difference between the [English and Welsh] Acts is that the Welsh Act applies to people ‘in need’ of any age and their carers, whereas the English Act is largely confined to the needs of ‘adults in need’ and their adult carers. This briefing paper focuses on the provisions in the Welsh Act that deal with the rights of disabled children, adults in need and their carers."