Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language
I am providing Members with an update on the phased implementation of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal Act (the Act). Members will be aware that The Additional Learning Needs Code for Wales (the ALN Code) was issued in March, alongside a number of regulations made under the Act. Since that time, and in partnership with the Transformation Leads and other stakeholder networks, we have continued activity aimed at supporting a shared understanding of expectations and readiness for the implementation of the new ALN system.
Through these discussions, while it has been acknowledged that significant progress has been made, and the additional funding made available by government welcomed, it has become clear that the impact of the pandemic cannot be ignored. The message consistently being shared is of the need for further space and time to manage and plan for aspects of this important programme of reform alongside the new set of expectations for education settings from September in relation to Covid.
In her statement to Members on 2 February, my predecessor set out that we would consider revisiting plans, if necessary, to reflect the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and to alleviate pressure. In the light of discussion with stakeholders, I have now deemed it necessary that plans be revisited so that all partners have the time in which to plan for and deliver new arrangements successfully and in the best interest of our children. It is absolutely essential that we get this right.
With this in mind, the implementation of the ALN system for the first year will be sequenced. This means, for those children who are or are newly identified as having additional learning needs, (that is, those without already identified special educational needs (SEN), or are not awaiting or undergoing an SEN assessment), will still move to the new ALN system from 1 September 2021. However, for those children who attend a maintained school (including a PRU) and who have already identified SEN via school action or school action plus, the new system will apply from 1 January 2022, instead of 1 September 2021.
It is my expectation that the sector uses the period between September and January to reflect on guidance, begin preparatory work, and to engage those with already identified SEN in School Action or School Action Plus with their transition to the new arrangements.
To support their efforts, we will publish technical and practitioner versions of the implementation guide, which will help them to navigate the processes and requirements for transition to the new system.
These materials will be published early in the Autumn Term together with an additional guide for parents and families.