Voice Official Response: Draft Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Code
Backgound: The Additional Learning Needs (ALN) statutory framework replaces legislation on special education needs and the assessment of children and young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in post-16 education and training. The Welsh Government is consulting on:
- the draft ALN code
- draft regulations relating to the Education Tribunal for Wales and ALN co-ordinators
- revisions to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 Part 6 Code of Practice – Looked After and Accommodated Children.
Summary: For the most part, the Code is extremely clear and the focus is appropriate. We would add a caveat, which is that the Code is also very long and, whilst there are chapters aimed at the different responsible bodies involved in the ALN system, it may still appear daunting to certain stakeholders, particularly the children and young people and their families, who are at the centre of the system.
The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 is a very far-reaching piece of legislation that is completely overhauling and reforming the support of children and young people with ALN in the education system. Many regulations referred to in the Code will need to be drafted as secondary legislation in order to support the legislative power of the Code. In brief, as an education union, we worry that the impact of the draft ALN Code will be that:
- insufficient funding will be allocated to maintain and develop the new regime in the medium-term and long-term, given continuing local authority austerity and insufficient funding in the education system as a whole, meaning that the impact will be ineffective and inconsistent;
- inconsistent application of the Code throughout Wales will lead to a ‘postcode lottery’ of provision;
- restructures in educational settings will take place in order to bring in the ALN reforms, leading to possible redundancies, a negative effect on members’ contractual terms & conditions and job insecurity; and
- implementation of the Code will lead to an excessive workload for members involved in supporting children and young people with ALN in schools and in FEIs.