Alun Davies, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language
We are determined to deliver a fully inclusive education system for learners in Wales. A system where needs are identified early, addressed quickly and all learners are supported to reach their potential. We want planning to be flexible and responsive, and our professionals to be skilled and confident.
This year, the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill will be introduced to the National Assembly for Wales. The Bill aims to create a unified legal framework for Wales which will put learners, and their parents and carers, at the heart of the process to identify and plan how to meet their needs.
New legislation and statutory guidance is only one aspect, albeit a fundamental one, of our wider Transformation Programme. The reforms will affect every school and classroom in Wales, so we will work with the workforce to ensure they have the skills to deliver effective support to learners with ALN.
We are working with our partners to develop the role of Additional Learning Needs Coordinators, which will replace Special Educational Needs Coordinators. A national workforce planning system, to ensure that specialist support services are available to education settings across Wales, is also being developed.
We know that transformation of this scale will present challenges as well as opportunities and are committed to supporting our delivery partners to prepare for this transition in a number of ways.
I am pleased to announce a new ALN Innovation Fund worth £2.1million over the next two years which is designed to support regional partnership projects supporting learners with ALN, including local authorities, schools, further education institutions (FEIs), specialist providers, health, social services, early years and the third sector. The funding targets the development of creative, collaborative delivery models and practices which improve systems, arrangements and relationships.
As we move forward towards the implementation stage, the programme will involve further grant funding to delivery partners including local authorities, FEIs, local health boards and the Tribunal. The grants will support organisations to produce local implementation plans, undertake ‘readiness’ self-assessments and deliver training on the new system. We will be appointing a small team of strategic advisors to support partners in preparing for and managing transition to the new ALN system. I will set out further details about the package of financial support in due course, following wider Welsh Government budget announcements.
Our approach is being developed in collaboration with our key delivery partners through the ALN Strategic Implementation Group and a number of Expert Groups which are giving detailed consideration to a number of technical issues about the delivery of the new system. I will continue to seek the views of our partners on transition options via a full, public consultation in the New Year.
Notwithstanding the transformation that we want to see happening now in terms of culture and practice, there remain legal duties in place with which, for the time being, local authorities and all those who work with children and young people with SEN, must continue to comply. They must also continue to have regard to the current Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales.
Ultimately, it is by working together that we will create an inclusive, equitable education system where all learners are supported to overcome barriers to learning and participation and achieve their full potential.