Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and Welsh Language
Achieving excellence, equity and well-being for all children and young people is a core purpose of our education reforms and it is encouraging to see the ALN Act is already making a difference to the lives of learners and their families.
Steady and positive progress towards implementing the additional learning needs (ALN) system is being reported and partners share that person-centred practice is enhancing engagement and improving the support learners with ALN and their families are receiving. I am encouraged to hear about the good ALN practice being put in place by schools.
However, over the last six months, ALNCos, local authorities, special schools, head teachers, third sector providers and other education practitioners have told us that more time is needed to embed effective change. They have highlighted the increasing pressures created by responding for example, to the enduring impacts of the pandemic on children and young people requiring support due to their social and emotional issues, whilst at the same time moving children and young people from the SEN system to the new ALN system. I have therefore determined there is a need for more time to deliver the changes and improvements through the ALN reforms.
It is vital for our learners with ALN that we implement this legislation in an effective way, I have therefore decided to extend the implementation of the ALN Act from three years to four years. I am also nearly doubling the funding to education partners for ALN implementation, investing £12m in 23-24, and 24-25 to boost resources that are needed to successfully embed the ALN reforms. Also, in recognition of the important role of special schools I am investing £1million from the 22-23 budget to reimburse costs incurred this year.
Extending implementation means that children who were due to move to the ALN system between September 2023 and August 2024, will now move to the ALN system between September 2023 and August 2025. This will create more flexibility for bodies who are responsible for moving children from the SEN system to the ALN system.
The rights for children, and their parents, to request a child moves to the ALN system is unaffected – meaning that children who want to move to the ALN system can still ask to do so.
The flow though system, for post-16 learners, as announced in March 2022 will not change.
Maintaining focus and reform momentum is essential to securing successful implementation. My officials will be writing to key stakeholders setting out further information on these arrangements in the coming weeks alongside updating published guidance.