The Welsh Government has announced a further £9.8 million to support learners with Additional Learning Needs. The funding will remove barriers to education for children and young people due to Covid-19.
£8.8m will be provided to local authorities, including funding for special schools, with £1m for young people in further education.
The pandemic has led to delays in some young people being assessed for their additional learning needs, due to social distancing and coronavirus restrictions. Local authorities will be able to use the funding to clear backlogs for assessments, enabling learners to return to education more quickly.
The funding can also be used to fund additional costs associated with blended learning, including one-to-one support, and the costs of specialist software.
The funding will also be used to meet costs such as additional classes, where these are needed to keep learners and staff safe, and services such as occupational therapy. Local authorities will also be able to extend mental health and wellbeing support for learners adversely impacted by Covid.
Special schools have been able to remain open throughout the pandemic. As part of the Covid-19 Vaccination programme, the Welsh Government plans for staff providing personal care to the most clinically vulnerable learners in special schools to be offered vaccinations by the end of February.
Kirsty Williams, the Education Minister, said:
Covid-19 has created challenges for all our learners, but particularly those with Additional Learning Needs, their families and staff who support them.
This funding will help young people return to or begin their learning journey. It includes support for young people in further education, by helping them complete their courses this year and progress to the next stage in their adult lives.
Rebecca Evans, the Finance Minister and Trefnydd, said:
Research has shown the pandemic can have a particular impact on vulnerable children and young people, with some children missing out on education due to the complexity of their needs.
As well as targeting funding to protect people from the short-term impact of the pandemic, our response ensures young people can continue to access education, which is vital to the longer term health of our economy and our society.