Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
On 6 July, I issued a Written Ministerial Statement announcing the publication of a draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill for consultation.
The draft Bill proposes a statutory Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Code to be used across the 0-25 age range, across agencies and across educational settings. It is intended that the new Code would impose mandatory requirements in some circumstances as well set out practical guidance on how we expect the statutory duties to be performed.
I recognise how important the Code will be to the operation of the proposed new system overall and consequently its importance for anyone attempting to understand the legislative proposals outlined in the draft Bill. Furthermore, I want those responding to the consultation on the draft Bill to have access to information that may be useful to them in forming a view about its provisions and practical impact. Therefore, I am pleased that I am able to announce today that an initial working draft of a proposed ALN Code has now been published.
This is not a consultation on the draft Code.
The document is a working draft provided for illustrative purposes only, with the intention of supporting the consultation on the draft Bill. However, I hope that it will give local authorities and others responsible for delivering the proposed new system an early indication of our intentions in some key areas – particularly around the content and process for preparing an Individual Development Plan.
I want this first draft of the Code, which was developed with input from key stakeholders, to form the basis for continued engagement between my officials and local authorities, professionals and others to further develop the Code. I want this to be a collaborative exercise that results in a document which is supported by those who are required to abide by it. As such, I have asked my officials to convene a content development group to co-design and further develop the Code, ahead of public consultation on it.
In addition to the draft Code, I have also published today an outline of the possible timescales for implementation of the system outlined in the draft Bill. Whilst it is not possible to give precise dates at this stage, as these will be decisions for the next Welsh Government, I hope that the proposed key principles and workstreams, and broad timeframes outlined in the implementation plan can also form the basis of future discussions with stakeholders.
The ongoing consultation on the draft Bill, which runs until 18 December, provides us with the opportunity to continue to work with others to further develop the approach. With this in mind, we have a number of engagement events planned across Wales during the coming months. Alongside the Code content development group, we will hold consultation events on the draft Bill and participation events with children, young people and their carers. To facilitate this engagement, I will shortly be publishing a version of the consultation for children and young person and an easy read explanation of the draft Bill and consultation questions.