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Written Statement - Education (Wales) Bill – SEN provisions

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

I introduced the Education (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly for Wales on 1 July 2013.

During Stage 1 of its passage through the Assembly, the Children and Young Persons Committee consulted on the Bill’s provisions, receiving written evidence and oral contributions from a wide range of sources.

After a thorough analysis of these contributions, and of the recommendations submitted by the Children and Young Person Committee in its report at the end of Stage 1 of the Bill, I have decided, on balance to support the removal of the Special Educational Needs (SEN) provisions (Part 3) from the Education (Wales) Bill.


I remain committed to supporting our learners in Wales, however, I have also listened to the opinions of stakeholders and Assembly Members that their preference is that the SEN provisions are removed from this Bill and included in a stand alone SEN Reform Bill. This Government takes the scrutiny process very seriously - it is for this reason that I will be supporting the removal of Part 3, from this Bill.

Whilst I am disappointed for our learners that there will be a delay to implementation of these important measures, I want to reassure all stakeholders and Assembly Members that my officials will work closely with them to bring forward legislation for learners with SEN that is cohesive and holistic at the earliest opportunity.  This Government also recognises the importance of collaborative working if we are to deliver legislation that is fit for purpose. With this in mind I have asked my officials to develop a strategy for engagement with stakeholders to make sure this happens.

This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep Assembly Members informed. Should Members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.

Background

The provisions in Part 3 of the Education (Wales) Bill seeks to provide for better transition for SEN learners from school into further education by placing responsibility for assessing the needs of, and securing specialist post-16 education for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities with the local authority.  

Part 3 of the Bill also includes a right of appeal to the SEN Tribunal for Wales for learners with learning difficulties aged up to 25 in relation to the local authorities duty to assess learners’ needs and the provision required to meet those needs.

Part 3 of the Bill also seeks to support provision for learners with special educational needs by reforming the way independent schools are registered and approval to provide education for learners with ‘Special Education Needs’ (SEN).