A quick guide on the changes coming into force on 1 September 2021, by the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018.
From 1 September 2021, the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (“ALNWA 2018”) will start to change the way children and young people aged 0-25 with additional learning needs (“ALN”) are supported in Education.
The Welsh Government has three commencement orders that bring into force specified provisions of the Additional Learnings Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 on 1 September 2021, depending on their application to particular classes of person categorised in each Order.
On 22 March 2021, the Welsh Government made three commencement orders under the ALNWA 2018 which bring specified provisions of the ALNWA 2018 into force.
The Welsh Government has made:
- The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (Commencement No 2) Order 2021 (SI 2021/373). This brings into force specified provisions of the ALNWA 2018 on 1 September 2021. Some of these only apply to persons who are not specified in Article 4 of the Order; Article 4 includes persons with identified special educational needs, persons over compulsory school age and those who are engaged with the existing statutory framework established by the Education Act 1996. Further specified provisions come into force on 1 September 2021 concerning detained persons who need additional learning provision and are not over school age (Article 5) and persons for whom an individual development plan is being prepared or kept under section 40 or 42 of the ALNWA 2018 (Article 6).
- The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (Commencement No 3 and Transitional and Saving Provisions) Order (SI 2021/381). This brings specified provisions of the ALNWA 2018 into force on 1 September 2021 concerning those who are not over compulsory school age, attend a maintained school and have identified special educational needs. The Order deals with the issuing of notices that a child will transfer from Education Act 1996 regime to the ALNWA 2018 regime.
- The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (Commencement No 4 and Transitional and Saving Provisions) Order 2021 (SI 2021/383). Among other effects, this brings into force specified provisions of the ALNWA 2018 on 1 September 2021 that engage persons who are not over compulsory school age, attend a maintained school, who have certain identified special educational needs, and who are either looked after children or registered at another institution.
The Welsh Government is determined that the new ALNWA 2018 regime will deliver a fully inclusive education system for learners in Wales, where needs are identified early and addressed quickly. It is intended that the planning under the new regime will be flexible and responsive, with the learner at the centre of everything.
The Act itself will be supported by regulations and an ALN Code, which all has 11 main aims:
- Additional Learning Needs – the Act replaces the terms ‘special educational needs’ and ‘learning difficulties and/or disabilities’ with the new term ‘additional learnings needs;
- 0 – 25 range – rather than having two separate systems operating to support children and young people of compulsory school age, there will be a single legislative system relating to the support given children and young people aged between 0 to 25 years who have additional learning needs.
- Individual Development Plan – the existing variety of statutory and non-statutory plans are replaced with a single statutory plan – the Individual Development Plan.
- Increased participation of children and young people – the Act requires that learners’ views should always be considered as part of the planning process, along with those of their parents / carers.
- High aspirations and improved outcomes – emphasis in the Individual Development Plan 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.
- Less adversarial system – a simpler process of producing and revising an Individual Development Plan.
- Increased collaboration – an encouragement to improve collaboration and information sharing in order to ensure 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 regime focuses on ensuring that where disagreements occur about an Individual Development Plan or the provision it contains, the matter is considered and resolved at the most local level possible.
- Rights of appeal – where disagreements about the contents of an Individual Development Plan cannot be resolved at the local level, the Act ensures that children and young people entitled to an Individual Development Plan have a right of appeal to a tribunal.
- ALN Code – the Code will provide 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.
- Bilingual system – the Act requires that services must consider whether a child or young person needs additional learning provision in Welsh. If they do, this must be documented in the Individual Development Plan and ‘all reasonable steps’ must be taken to secure the provision in Welsh.
It seems that these revisions aim to bring together relevant parties at an early stage in order to support the needs of a child from the outset. It is intended that any dispute or disagreement will be resolved informally at an early stage with a clear promotion to discuss the full range of options available.
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