Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act
On the 1st September 2021, the new Additional Learning Needs system will commence across schools in Wales. The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (ALNET) aims to create:
- a unified legislative framework to support all children of compulsory school age or below with additional learning needs (ALN) and to support young people with ALN who are in school or further education (FE)
- an integrated, collaborative process of assessment, planning and monitoring which facilitates early, timely and effective interventions
- a fair and transparent system for providing information and advice, and for resolving concerns and appeals
In September 2021 the new Additional Learning Needs system will commence for children of compulsory school age in Year 7 and Year 10 who have special educational provision (Students in Year 7 and 10 who currently have education provision via a statement will not be included in the first year of implementing). Please find attached a flyer that shares more information on the changes that are being made to the ALN system and how these may impact on you and your child.
If you have any questions regarding the new ALN Reform, please do not hesitate to contact: Mrs Karina Shaw, ALNCo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Mrs Donna Lewis (ALN Manager) email@example.com , or Miss Laurie Albrighton (ALN Intervention and Support Manager) L.Albrighton@penglais.org.uk.
We will work with you and your child to try to agree on the plan. However, if you do not agree with key decisions about an IDP you can appeal to a tribunal, a special group of people whose job it is to deal with a disagreement.
You can learn more about IDPs here:
Frequently asked questions
- What is the new additional learning needs (ALN) system?
The ALN system is the new statutory support system for children and young people aged 0 to 25 in Wales with ALN. The legislative framework of the new system is created by the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (‘the Act’), the ALN Code for Wales and regulations made under the Act. Through this statutory framework the Welsh Government aims to ensure that all learners with ALN are supported to overcome barriers to learning and can achieve their full potential, by creating:
- a unified legislative framework to support all children of compulsory school age or below with additional learning needs (ALN) and to support young people with ALN who are in school or further education (FE);
- an integrated, collaborative process of assessment, planning and monitoring of the support provided to ALN learners which facilitates early, timely and effective interventions; and
- a fair and transparent system for providing information and advice, and for resolving concerns and appeals.
The Act replaces the terms ‘special educational needs (SEN)’ and ‘learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD)’ with the new term ‘additional learning needs (ALN)’. All children and young people with ALN regardless of the severity or complexity of their learning difficulty or disability will be entitled to a statutory support plan called an ‘Individual Development Plan’ (IDP). Children and young people with ALN will receive support called additional learning provision (ALP) which will be set out in their IDP.
- What is ALN?
A learner has ALN if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability which calls for additional learning provision (ALP). 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.
A child under compulsory school age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she is likely to (or would be likely to if no ALP were made) have significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of their peers when they reach compulsory school age. ALP for a learner aged over 3 years means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age in a mainstream school, FEI or nursery education setting In Wales. For those under 3 years old it means educational provision of any kind. It is possible for a child or young person to have a learning difficulty or disability that does not call for ALP. In these instances such a child or young people would not be considered to have ALN. Further it is important to note that not all learning difficulties or disabilities that arise from a medical condition will call for additional learning provision. One of the principles of the draft ALN Code is inclusive education where children and young people are supported to participate fully in mainstream education, wherever feasible, and a whole setting approach is taken to meet the needs of learners with ALN. Where settings adopt a fully inclusive approach combined with universal learning provision that meets a broad range of learning needs, this can help to negate the need for ALP. The draft ALN Code provides guidance on the process for assessing and deciding whether a child or young person has ALN. IDPs
- Who will be entitled to an IDP?
The ALN Act creates a single legislative system for supporting children and young people aged between 0 to 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. The new system replaces existing support plans (including Statements of SEN, individual education plans (IEPs) for learners on school action/ school action plus and Learning and Skills Plans for post-16 learners) with a new statutory plan called an Individual Development Plan (IDP). If it is decided that a child in Wales, of compulsory school age and below, has ALN, they will be entitled to an IDP, no matter where they are educated. However, the Act does not give young persons with ALN a right to continuous education up to the age of 25. Rather, it is about providing access to further education or training on an equitable basis to young people who do not have ALN. If a young person has ALN and attends a maintained school or FEI, they will always be entitled to an IDP. However, where a young person with ALN is not attending an FEI or maintained school, a local authority will need to decide, in accordance with regulations to be made under the Act, whether it is necessary to maintain an IDP for them. It is intended that the regulations will set out matters that are relevant when a local authority is considering what, if any, reasonable needs for education or training the young person has. They will also deal with when it is necessary for the local authority to prepare and maintain an IDP for a young person who has a reasonable need for education or training. Chapter 12 of the draft ALN Code reflect what we intend to provide for in these regulations. The Act does not extend to higher education, work-based learning or apprenticeships. The Welsh Government believes that it would not be appropriate to place duties on employers. If however a learner undertaking workbased learning or an apprenticeship is enrolled as a student at an FEI, the duties on the FEI apply. Also, if the young person agrees for the IDP to transfer with them to their higher education institution, work-based learning provider or apprenticeship it can be used for transition and to support planning. We are continuing to work with colleagues responsible for apprenticeships and workbased learning to identify the different scenarios and suggest best practice for dealing with them in the Code. We believe effective use of contractual arrangements is the better way of protecting and promoting the interests of learners with ALN within the work based learning sector.
- How long does it take to prepare an IDP?
The time taken to prepare an IDP will depend on the nature and scope of a child or young person’s needs. Preparing a concise IDP for a child or young person with less severe or complex needs should be a relatively simple and quick process. Such IDPs should form a large majority of those that are prepared. An IDP for a child or young person with severe, complex or low incidence needs is likely to require specialist input and advice and detail a much wider range of interventions. This will necessarily require greater time and effort to prepare but should only be required in a minority of cases. The draft ALN Code proposes that a school must prepare an IDP promptly, and in any event within 35 school days from, in the case of a pupil who is a child, it being brought to the attention of or otherwise appearing to the school that person may have ALN, or, in the case of a pupil who is a young person, the pupil consenting to the decision being made. The equivalent period in the case of a local authority is 12 weeks (or seven weeks where the local authority is reconsidering a school’s decision about whether a child or young person has ALN). Under the current SEN system, the process of statutory assessment and issuing a statement can take up to 26 weeks. The proposed timescales for IDPs should help ensure that no child or young person with ALN goes for much longer than a whole school term without an IDP being put in place (a school term normally lasting about 13 weeks).
- What is an IDP and how does it differ to a Statement?
An IDP is a statutory plan maintained by a school, FEI or local authority that sets out a description of a child or young person’s ALN, the additional learning provision (ALP) called for by their learning difficulty or disability, and other associated information. Unlike a statement of SEN, IDPs will be provided to children and young people with ALN irrespective of the severity or complexity of their needs. The statutory status of the IDP will be the same irrespective of the child or young person’s needs, with the same rights of appeal to the Education Tribunal for Wales for anyone with an IDP. The IDP is intended to be a flexible document that will vary in length and complexity depending on the different needs of learners and the way in which an individual learner’s needs develop and change over time.
- How different is this Act to the one in England?
In England, the Children and Families Act 2014 reformed the SEN system and introduced new statutory plans called ‘Education Health and Care Plans’ (EHCPs) – however, these are only for learners with severe and complex needs (i.e. equivalent to Statements). In Wales, the ALN system will extend rights to statutory plans to all learners with ALN, not limited to only those with the most severe or complex needs.
- What role do children, their parents, and young people have in the process of identifying and supporting ALN in the new system?
The new system puts the learner at the heart of everything that happens and we expect schools, FEIs and local authorities to take a person-centred approach to planning for and supporting children and young people. The Act requires that the views, wishes and feelings of children, their parents and young people are considered at all stages of the IDP process. The proposed mandatory IDP template will include a one-page profile to ensure that IDPs reflect the child’s or young person’s needs and personality, including what is important to and for them.
- Who is responsible for preparing, maintaining and reviewing IDPs and for identifying ALN?
ALN will be identified, and IDPs will be prepared and maintained, by either a school, FEI or local authority, depending on which educational institution a child or young person attends and the severity or complexity of their needs. Maintaining an IDP means, securing the additional learning provision included in it, and reviewing the IDP as and when required to ensure the information in it, and the provision it describes, remains appropriate. In the case of children or young people who are not a pupil at a maintained school or enrolled as a student at an FEI, or where they are a child looked after by a Welsh local authority, it will always be the local authority that maintains the IDP. This includes maintaining IDPs for children under compulsory school age if they are not attending a maintained school setting or young people attending an independent specialist post-16 institution.
- What is the difference between a local authority maintained IDP and a school-maintained IDP?
An IDP maintained by a school and that maintained by a local authority will have exactly the same statutory standing. Whichever body prepares and maintains the IDP must ensure that the IDP describes the child or young person’s ALN and the ALP that is called for by their ALN, and must then secure that ALP. Local authorities rather than schools will maintain IDPs where the child or young person has ALN that calls for ALP it would not be reasonable for the governing body to secure. Chapter 9 of the draft ALN Code provides clarity on when a school should refer a pupil to a local authority for it to decide whether the pupil has ALN and to decide whether the local authority or the school should have responsibility for maintaining an IDP. It provides guidance to local authorities on how they should determine whether it is reasonable for a school or the local authority to secure the ALP required by a child or young person. It also sets out that the local authority should establish a set of principles they will apply when determining whether it is reasonable for a school to secure the ALP or whether the local authority ought to do so.
- How will the Act help to create a bilingual system for supporting children and young people with ALN across Wales?
One of the core aims of the Act is to create a bilingual system of support for ALN. Services will be required to consider whether a child or young person needs ALP in Welsh; this duty will be an ongoing one, rather than a one-off decision. If they do, this must be documented in the IDP and all reasonable steps must be taken to secure the provision in Welsh. A mechanism is included in the Act to remove by regulations the ‘all reasonable steps’ test, so that the duties to provide ALP through the medium of Welsh become absolute over time. A series of strategic duties are also aimed at driving progress towards a bilingual ALN system. In particular, when reviewing their arrangements for ALN, and the extent to which those arrangements are sufficient to meet the needs of children and young people, local authorities will be required to consider the sufficiency of ALP made in Welsh. If a local authority considers that the arrangements are not sufficient, including the availability of ALP in Welsh, it must take all reasonable steps to remedy the matter. In doing so, local authorities should link their review of ALP with wider strategic duties including those under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, which requires them to draft, consult on and publish Welsh in Education Strategic Plans (WESPs) demonstrating how they will aim to achieve the outcomes and targets for Welsh-medium provision in their area, including for learners with ALN.
Source: Welsh Assembly Government The additional learning needs transformation programme: frequently asked questions Includes details of the new additional learning needs (ALN) system and how we will put in place the changes.
A full copy of this document can be accessed here: