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This conference discussed the priorities for Additional Learning Needs (ALN) provision in Welsh education, and the ongoing implementation of reform to the system through the ALN Act and ALN Transformation Programme.
With all children and young people in Wales with additional needs transitioning to the new ALN system by August 2024 and moving to new Individual Development Plans (IDPs), delegates assessed the current landscape for ALN reform in Wales and the transition process so far, as well as looking ahead to priorities going forward.
Attendees considered next steps for developing multi-agency collaboration, the implementation of new IDPs, easing the transition into post-16 education and the workplace for young people with ALN, and ensuring sufficient training and development processes are in place to retain and support ALN staff throughout the transition period and beyond.
Further sessions examined best practice in additional needs provision and what can be learnt from other jurisdictions, including Scotland’s Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) commitment and Additional Support for Learning framework, which provides short and long-term support in schools.
We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with Hannah Wharf, Deputy Director, Support for Learners Division, Welsh Government; and Dr Cathryn Knight, Senior Lecturer in Psychology of Education, School of Education, University of Bristol.
Overall, sessions in the agenda focused on:
- ALN provision in Wales: developments and next steps
- how progression from the old SEN model has gone so far - priorities for the new system
- the ongoing introduction of Individual Development Plans - progress in tailoring support for individual children
- implementation: issues and priorities
- opportunities and strategies for multi-agency collaboration
- achieving universal access to services for children and parents - concerns surrounding fewer children getting support in recent years
- managing the transition of students within the existing SEN system to the new ALN model
- priorities for schools, including for Welsh-medium education
- Scotland’s system: what can be learnt from GIRFEC in Additional Support for Learning provision
- post-16 education and beyond: best practice for supporting and including students with ALN in sixth-forms, colleges and higher education - the transition from education into the workplace
- support for the workforce: balancing teacher workloads - ensuring sufficient support and training for teachers and ALN staff during the transition phase and into the future
The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from Department for the Economy, NI; HMPPS; Senedd Cymru; and the Welsh Government.