The Welsh Government has recently issued two written ministerial statements updating the phased transition from the special education needs (SEN) system to the additional learning needs (ALN) system which we have previously reported on.
The first statement announces that it has been decided to extend the time available to move children during the first year of implementation by one year. This means that children who were due to move to the ALN system between January 2022 and August 2022, will now move to the ALN system between January 2022 and August 2023.
The transfer to the ALN system will still be completed by the end of the 2023-24 school year which means there has been a reorganisation of how specific groups of children will move in the second and third year of implementation as set out below.
School year 2022/23 – children with provision via school action/school action plus: Year 10 (and any children who were in Nursery, Year 1, Year 3, Year 5, Year 7 and Year 10 in 2021/22 who were not moved to the ALN system during 2021/22)
School year 2022/23 – children with provision via statements: Nursery, Reception, Year 6, Year 10 and Year 11.
School year 2023/24 – children with provision via school action/school action plus: Nursery, Year 2, Year 4, Year 6, Year 8 and Year 10.
School year 2023/24 – children with provision via statements: Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5, Year 6, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10.
This extension and reorganisation means that schools, PRUs and local authorities will now be required to move fewer children in the first two years of implementation.
The second statement deals with implementation of the SEN to ALN transition in post-16 education which will involve a ‘flow through’ approach, whereby those currently in year 10 and below, who are being moved to the ALN system by a school or local authority during the implementation period, will ‘flow through’ into further education with an individual development plan (IDP) already in place (where they require one). Any young person not yet on the ALN system at the end of the 2024/25 school year will move to the ALN system at that point
Importantly, until a young person is transferred to the ALN system, the Education Act 1996 and the Learning and Skills Act 2000 will continue to apply and they will continue to benefit from the support available via the existing Special Educational Needs and Learning Difficulty and Disability systems, respectively.
In an accompanying letter Owain Lloyd, Director of Education and the Welsh Language, also set out details for placements in post-16 specialist colleges.
The Welsh Government is currently responsible for securing and funding placements at specialist further education establishments for young people who could not otherwise receive education and training suitable to meet their needs: in other words, those young people who are not offered a place at a local further education college. As part of the ALN Act, this responsibility will transfer to local authorities. This transfer of responsibility will take place gradually, with local authorities becoming responsible for those who have been moved to the ALN system from 2022/23 (those currently in year 10 and below).
- This means local authorities will begin making decisions from 2022/23 for those currently in year 10 who will be in their final year of school next year.
- The Welsh Government will continue to secure and fund specialist post-16 placements for those young people who have not yet been moved to the ALN system (those currently in Year 11 and above).
- In order to ensure this, and in line with the current system, Careers Wales will continue to undertake assessments and produce Learning and Skills Plans for those young people for whom the Welsh Government is responsible for making decisions.
- It is the Welsh Government’s intention that full responsibility will transfer to local authorities at the end of 2024/25 school year. However, funding for placements agreed by the Welsh Government before the end of the 2024-25 school year will remain available to young people until they complete their agreed programme of study, which is usually for a 2-year period.
- Officials are currently working to consider the details of the funding arrangements during this period and a further update will be provided in due course.
Further information about how the transition will work in years two and three of its implementation, including guidance will be published in the summer term of 2022.