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Written Statement - Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

“Qualified For Life” set out our plans for all learners to benefit from excellent teaching and learning.  It set out our vision that all learners in Wales should enjoy teaching that inspires them to succeed in an education community that works cooperatively and aspires to be great, where the potential of every child and young person is actively developed.

We have made great strides in supporting learners to achieve their potential, and there is a new momentum in Welsh Education. We have been clear that the success of our education system depends upon the success of all children.

To help us achieve an education system that works for all learners, in Qualified for Life we set out our commitment to improve the capacity of the workforce, working in collaboration with health, social care and communities to better meet the learning needs of children with and young people with SEN and we have brought forward proposals for reform set out in our White Paper ‘Legislative Proposals for Additional Learning Needs’.  The proposals in our White Paper found strong support amongst those working with learners.  Since then we have been developing the detailed legislative proposals to underpin a new system of support for learners with Additional Learning Needs.  

We have now completed that work and a draft Bill has been produced which captures our proposals and creates a new legislative framework.

The successful implementation of the Bill depends fundamentally on our workforce, their skills and capacity.  More than that, the success of these reforms requires the workforce to embrace the needs of these learners in a meaningful and holistic way.    

The New Deal for the workforce sets out my plans for supporting the professional development of those working in schools and alongside the vision articulated by  Professor Donaldson’s review Successful Futures, we have an ambitious reform agenda.

Successful Futures makes clear that inclusion should be at the heart of the new curriculum and calls for a new curriculum structure that will be inclusive, with all children and young people making progress along the same continuum, regardless of any additional learning needs they may have

Success in implementing these changes calls, I believe, for a new relationship and new ways of working with schools, local authorities, regional consortia and with learners. It is clear to me that to deliver real change and real improvement it is vital that we design change with the profession and do not impose it upon them.

Reflecting specifically on this in relation to the significant changes we are proposing to the way we identify and support learners with Additional Learning Needs has led me to decide that we need to build in an important additional step in our reform journey.

I will therefore shortly publish a draft of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill. This will allow stakeholders to comment on and respond to the detailed legislative proposals in a much more meaningful way before they are introduced to the formal Assembly scrutiny process.

I am firmly committed to a fully inclusive education system in Wales; for our education system to be world leading it must deliver for all learners in all classrooms.

Having a clear legislative framework is essential but, these learners, need more than just compliance. We need schools and professionals equipped, committed and skilled to deliver inclusive teaching and learning. I believe that by ensuring the fullest engagement in our reform programme and ensuring full integration of our plans for ALN with those for professional development and our curriculum and assessment we can deliver for all learners.

To this end I will publish the draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill before recess. An early draft of a new ALN Code of Practice and an outline of our plans for implementation will also be published in the autumn term.

Comment and feedback on these documents will be welcomed until December 2015.

I will consider the drafts in light of feedback and work cross party to gain the necessary support to ensure that a Bill is bought forward for formal scrutiny early in the new Assembly Term. I will also be asking officials to consider how best to bring forward implementation of those aspects of our reform that do not require legislation and that clearly align with, or are delivered through our curriculum review and the New Deal.

I will provide an Oral Statement to Members shortly