ADDITIONAL LEARNING NEEDS TRANSFORMATION UPDATE JUNE 2021
- Meeting of Performance Scrutiny Committee, Thursday, 10 June 2021 10.00 am (Item 7.)
- View the declarations of interest for item 7.
To consider a joint report by the Principal Education Manager and the Inclusion Officer – ALN Implementation (copy attached) on progress made to ensure the local authority and schools are ready to meet their statutory requirements under the upcoming Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018.
10.55 am – 11.30 am
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement introduced the report (previously circulated) detailing progress made to ensure the local authority and schools were ready to meet their statutory requirements under the upcoming Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) (ALNET) Act 2018.
The ALNET Act 2018, supported by regulations and an Additional Learning Needs Code, would replace the current Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice for Wales (2002). The Act replaced the terms ‘special educational needs’ (SEN) and ‘learning difficulties and/or learning disabilities’ (LDD) with the new term ‘additional learning needs’ (ALN). The Act created a single system with a single statutory plan, the Individual Development Plan (IDP) which would replace existing plans such as Individual Education Plans, Statements of SEN and Learning and Skills Plans.
Councillor Hilditch-Roberts highlighted the additional work created by the introduction of the new Act with no extra funding being made available for its implementation. He commended the response and commitment from staff and stakeholders in progressing the necessary requirements and putting children first, which again reflected the positive approach and way of working in Denbighshire. It was explained that the ALN transformation programme created a unified system for supporting learners from 0 to 25 years with ALN in order to deliver a fully inclusive education system in Wales delivered through five key themes. The new ALN system was expected to go live in September 2021.
The Committee was guided through the report and actions taken in order to meet the new statutory requirements which included, in brief –
· Regional – Denbighshire continued to work collaboratively across the region and had produced an update report showing how Denbighshire was working towards implementation of the ALN reforms. There were various regional working groups with Denbighshire leading on the Educated Other Than at School (EOTAS) and Looked After Children (LAC) working groups
· Training – staff had been offered Person Centred Practice training, half termly meetings/workshops with school representatives had taken place, and regional training provided by the North Wales ALN Transformation Team. There was also access to training for elected members and other stakeholders
· Budgets – School ALN funding was now fully delegated to schools, working towards a 3 year rolling average to allow schools to plan more effectively
· IT System – Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham joined to procure a new IT system (ECLIPSE) to manage the new ALN processes effectively
· Learner Support – The Team Around the School had been established to continue to meet the current requirements of the statutory assessment process and the Act in relation to early intervention, prevention and identification of ALN
· Provision – work was ongoing with schools to map out their provision, including interventions and strategies used to support learners with and without ALN. This would provide a clear understanding for determining need and provision
· Individual Development Plan (IDP) – the IDP had been trialled in a small selection of schools in preparation for the new legislation; the single plan would ensure consistency and continuity and safeguard provision and rights
· Documentation – a ‘Learner Profile’ was being developed to capture the support, progress and targets of learners in need of targeted support that may not be defined as ALN and work with schools was ongoing to create an ALN/Inclusion protocol for schools to adopt
· School Readiness – schools had been supported with the new compulsory ALN Coordinator role and guidance provided. Schools had also completed the GwE milestones (guide targets to meet the required ALN reforms) and support was offered to schools where requested
· Financial Implications – the local authority continued to utilise the Regional ALN Transformation grant to support them and schools in preparation for the ALN reform and schools also used ALN Transformation cluster funding.
The Interim Head of Education also drew the Committee’s attention to the self-assessment for assessing the extent to which the local authority was prepared with a clear RAG (Red/Amber/Green) system to show the level of compliance.
The Lead Member, Interim Head of Children’s Services, Principal Education Manager and the Inclusion Officer responded to members’ questions as follows –
· there were fewer resources available to undertake assessments through the medium of Welsh which was a national issue and not just confined to the area of additional learning needs; the need to address the issue continued to be raised with the Welsh Government on a regular basis
· school ALN funding had been fully delegated to schools working towards a three year rolling average and costed provision maps were being developed to inform that process which would be moderated once a year to provide flexibility; a transitional fund had also been created against which funding requests could be made in the event of a sudden influx of children requiring support and to ensure that all children had the support they needed
· it could be difficult to identify home educated children with ALN given that the local authority did not have any responsibility in providing provision however there was a monitoring process in place and work was ongoing with the Regional Transformation Lead and regional partners in terms of the impact of the new Act and ALN Code of practice in that regard. Support continued as appropriate for children with ALN who transferred from school to be home educated and under the new Code of Practice parents, young people and health professionals could approach the local authority if they believed a child might have ALN whereupon an assessment could be offered
· some discussion focused on the implications of the extended age range of pupils from 0 – 25 years and the work going on in that regard to ensure the relevant settings were ready to meet the new requirements; post 16 education implementation had been postponed to September 2022 which allowed more time for local authorities and further education colleges to progress the necessary changes and work continued both locally and regionally in that regard. Assurances were also provided that practitioners from Community Support Services covering the adult social care aspect had also been involved in the work around ALN reform from the outset and work was also ongoing with specialised adult education colleges
· the extended age range resulted in an increased workload for Educational Psychologists (EP). The current staff capacity was an area of risk with a vacant post that was proving difficult to fill due to the national shortage of EPs and the need for an additional EP to undertake the work required as a result of the ALN reforms. There was also a national shortage of Health Psychologists and the wait for a formal diagnosis presented difficulties in fully understanding a child’s needs which then required a greater input from EP in those cases
· whilst there were different support systems and documentation relating to ALN in different areas of the UK there were robust procedures in place to convert the information and data provided with the child into the version used locally
· there were very close working relationships with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) to ensure a clear and coordinated approach to providing support within the context of mental wellbeing and mental health however waiting lists for the service had increased and would result in some delays in terms of diagnosis for some children
· reported upon the availability of report appendices 2 and 3 in Welsh when finalised and confirmed that training and resources produced by the local authority for Welsh medium schools would be available bilingually however the council had no control over material produced by external stakeholders.
In bringing the debate to a close the Chair thanked everyone for their contributions.
The Committee –
RESOLVED that –
(a) subject to the above comments and observations to endorse the work undertaken thus far to ensure that the Local Authority and its schools are ready to meet the statutory requirements of the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act, 2018 that come into force in September 2021;
(b) as part of its consideration it had read, understood and taken account of the Well-being Impact Assessment (Appendix 5), and
(c) a report be presented to the Committee during the Spring of 2022 detailing the Council’s compliance with the statutory requirements set out in the Additional Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act, 2018.
At this juncture (11.45 am) the committee adjourned for a refreshment break.
- ALN TRANSFORMATION, item 7. PDF 228 KB
- ALN Transformation Report 100621 APPENDIX 1, item 7. PDF 359 KB
- ALN Transformation Report 100621 - Appendix 2, item 7. PDF 969 KB
- ALN Transformation Report 100621 APPENDIX 3, item 7. PDF 211 KB
- ALN Transformation Report 100621 - Appendix 4, item 7. PDF 491 KB
- ALN Transformation Report 100621 APPENDIX 5, item 7. PDF 112 KB