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Attendees included officers from: local authorities, the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), the Association of Directors of Education in Wales (ADEW), the National Academy for Educational Leadership, colleges, Estyn, SNAP Cymru, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, and the Welsh Government (WG).
1. Welcome and Introductions
The chair welcomed members and noted that the majority attending this session are permanent members of the Steering Group, however as work progresses, membership may evolve.
2. ALN Reform National Steering Group Overview
The group would provide ongoing strategic direction and support to the sector in rolling out the ALN reforms.
Work will be split into two phases; phase 1 will focus on implementation (providing ongoing strategic support) and phase 2 accountability/evaluation (how we evidence and monitor the benefits of the reforms).
The Group discussed the Terms of Reference. With the exception of some minor changes, they were agreed.
WG officials confirmed Health Board and Social Care representatives had been invited to join the Group.
4. ALN Reform Progress to date
WG have provided £35m core funding to date, including the additional £8m in December 2021 for the implementation phase and a further £6.6m in March 2022.
Members discussed external plans to quality assess resources created for leaders, and to carry out a thematic review to evaluate the implementation and provision of the ALN act in schools.
5. National Implementation Programme
An Interim National Implementation Lead had been appointed to cover the National Implementation and Welsh Language Implementation Lead posts until October 2024. WG plan to recruit substantively into the two roles.
The Further Education Transformation Lead post has been extended (FE Implementation Lead).
WG would also develop a research and evaluation programme focussing on the implementation period.
6. Implementation update
Most service delivery partners are well prepared for reforms, despite the impact of the pandemic and the recovery period. Families value a person-centred approach as which promotes inclusion and builds trust. Meetings would continue in weeks to come to further monitor progress.
Members stressed the importance of getting the transition process for post-16 learners right.
7. Communications & Engagement
This would be a key focus for the Steering Group. WG are exploring options to develop engagement opportunities with third sector partners to foster participation of parents, children, and young people in policy development and to gather feedback on reforms.
8. Looking ahead
Members considered how to focus the Group’s agenda over the next year. WG would put the ideas discussed to the group in writing following the meeting and circulating these ahead of the first meeting to help confirm and agree areas of focus for the group going forward.