All posts in “Policy”

How the Additional Learning Needs Education Tribunal (ALNET) Act will be implemented.

Since the ALNET Bill received Royal Assent last year the Welsh Government has consulted on and published the first in a series of guides which explain how the ALNET Act and changes from Special Educational Needs to Additional Learning needs Systems will be implemented from 2020 onward

This first guide focuses on implementing individual development plans (IDPs) for children of compulsory school age and under.  It sets out the intended mandatory phased timetable for local authorities and school governing bodies to transfer children with special educational needs plans – such as statements and individual education plans – to the new ALN system.

Under the new system, children with ALN will be entitled to IDPs.

Where it appears to a LA or a school that a child may have ALN ‘they must decide’.   Where it has been decided a child has ALN, an IDP must be prepared for the child. The school or LA that maintains an IDP must secure the additional learning provision (ALP)

The definition hasn’t changed a great deal:  “A person has additional learning needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability (whether the learning difficulty or disability arises from a medical condition or otherwise) which calls for additional learning provision”

Conversion of statements will take place over a two year period and conversion of plans for learners on early years action, school action, early years action plus and school action plus will take place over three years.

The phased approach prioritises the transfer of learners with statements.  In addition, the approach focuses on, the youngest of learners to ensure early and effective intervention, and those learners nearing key points of progression to facilitate effective transition planning.

The guides are intended for use by organisations with duties set out in the Act such as local authorities, governing bodies of maintained schools, school teaching staff and special education needs co-ordinators (SENCos)/additional learning needs co-ordinators (ALNCos)

The Welsh Government have said that information for parents – “to explain what the new system means for children and young people including how, and when, they can access their new rights under the Act will be published in due course.”

Additional guides which will set out the arrangements for implementing specific aspects of the ALN system to include further education including specialist post-16 education.

The Additional Learning Needs Code will place requirements on local authorities and governing bodies and contain guidance.   A new draft ALN Code is expected to be published for consultation in December. This will provide an opportunity to respond to the content – much of which will eventually be mandatory and contain the regulations regarding timescales.  There will be approximately 15 weeks to respond to the consultation.  This will then  be laid before the National Assembly for Wales in 2019 and it is hoped that all subordinate legislation will be in place by the end of 2019.

Implementation training will be rolled out early in 2020 and the new system will be expected to go live from September 2020.

The guide to implementing IDPs for children of compulsory school age and under is available at:

Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act: implementation guide for individual development plans

The WG have also produced a Transformation Booklet

and a factsheet for young people and parents

Infographic available at – http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/additional-learning-special-educational-needs/transformation-programme/legislation-and-statutory-guidance/?lang=en

To ensure successful and consistent implementation of the new system, the WG have said they will be helping services to prepare for the changes ahead and to develop closer multi-agency
and cross-sector working practices. This includes the following:

Readiness, compliance, and impact monitoring and evaluation: to ensure that implementation of the Act is monitored closely, that issues are effectively addressed
for the benefit of children and young people, and that best practice is being identified and shared across Wales. The approach will consider implementation in stages.
Readiness: assessing the extent to which local authorities and other delivery agents  are prepared for the changes ahead.
Compliance: how effectively they are complying with the new legislative requirements once they take effect.
Impact: how and the extent to which the changes are embedding and making an impact on outcomes for learners.

ALN Transformation Leads: the WG have appointed a team of five transformation leads who provide advice, support and challenge to local authorities, FEIs and other delivery partners in preparing for and managing transition to the new ALN system.

Tracey Pead will remain in South East Wales after being the lead of the Pupil Support team in Torfaen County Borough Council;
Liz Jones, former Principal Educational Psychologist from Blaenau Gwent, will continue to work in the Mid-East region;
Huw Davies, a former Estyn inspector, will be working in the West and Mid Wales region;
Margaret Davies, former Estyn inspector, will work in the North region;
Chris Denham will take on the role of a Further Education transformation leader after working to Coleg Gwent in the field of Additional Learning Needs

 ALN Transformation Grants: funding to support delivery partners (including local authorities, FEIs, local health boards, the Tribunal and Estyn) to prepare for transition
to the new system.

For the time being, local authorities and all those who work with children and young people with SEN, must ensure that they continue to comply with the duties placed upon them by the Education Act 1996.

They must also continue to have regard to the SEN Code of Practice for Wales (2004) (gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/131016-sen-codeof-practice-for-wales-en.pdf).

SNAP Cymru receives generous donations from Memorial Posy Festival at St. Mary’s Church Tenby

At the Benefice Holy Eucharist last Sunday, 2nd September at St Marys Church Tenby, generous donations were made to the local representatives of SNAP Cymru and two other charities, as a result of the highly successful twentieth Memorial Posy Festival, held over four days earlier in the summer. One of the summer’s most popular events ‘In Loving Memory’, the annual Festival of Posies, was held on Thursday, June 28 until Sunday, July 1 at St. Mary’s Church, Tenby, Pembrokshire 

Almost 300 posies, window displays and stands adorned the beautiful church building, each one dedicated to the memory of a loved one. The flowers were arranged by a team of enthusiastic volunteers.  No two posies where the same.  Window displays and stands are also lovingly produced by talented floral specialists, led by Anne, Rita and Delyth.

Amanda Daniels, Assistant Director of SNAP Cymru, Kathryn Harries, representing Diabetes UK, and Cindy Jenkins, Leader of Snap Pembrokeshire ( a specialist early years setting for children with emerging additional learning needs at Withybush Hospital)  attended the service and were presented with generous cheques by three members of the Posy Festival Committee.

Presentations to each charity were made by Mrs Mary Smith, Mrs Judith Williams and Miss Maureen Webb.   SNAP Cymru and the other recipients expressed delight and gratitude at being nominated to be beneficiaries of such substantial gifts and gave an outline of how the generous gifts would support their work.

Rector Andrew Grace offered prayers for the excellent work of the charities, for their staff and volunteers and for those who benefit from their support.  In order to generate these funds over two hundred and fifty yellow and white posies, along with window displays and individual arrangements adorned St. Mary’s Church over four days and visitors from far and wide were welcomed to the church to enjoy the floral spectacle.

As a registered charity, SNAP Cymru relies on  generous donations from a variety of sources; these include contributions from  community organisations and individuals to sustain our work.

Whilst we hold the Parent Partnership Services, which are funded through Service Level Agreements in each Local Authority across Wales, this is not the case in Pembrokshire where the service was taken in house within the Local Authority two years ago.  Despite this SNAP Cymru continue to provide independent advice on additional learning needs and disability discrimination in Pembrokshire and a generous donation like that of St Mary’s allow us to provide advice to families through our helpline.

We are extremely grateful St Mary’s and to all our funders, not only for their generosity, but also for their enthusiasm and shared belief in what we do. Without their support we most certainly wouldn’t be in a position to help children and families across Wales.

SNAP CYMRU ACHIEVES QUALITY MARK FOR EXCELLENCE

(Some of SNAP Cymru’s Cardiff and Gwent Staff)

“SNAP Cymru has a myriad of excellent practice with fantastic staff!  Recognising Excellence Assessor Neil Huxtable

It’s been another successful year for SNAP Cymru, in which the organisation has been awarded the Legal Aid Agency’s Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) for the third time running. The accreditation highlights the organisations commitment to client care and best practice.

As a standard that is only awarded to organisations who meet the highest levels of management and customer care, SQM accredited organisations undergo rigorous independent assessments every three years. This ensures that they meet required standards of excellence in areas such as client care, case management and risk management.

The Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) is a standard owned by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) and was developed to help ensure that members of the public in need of specialist advice receive a quality service.  The SQM is independently audited by an Recognising Excellence on behalf of the Legal Aid Agency.

SQM requires organisations and Law firms to show that they comply with industry standards for business management and financial control as well as having in place good systems to manage the work with clients. The standard covers supervision and client care, access, running the organisation, plans and organisational issues, including and file reviews, meeting clients’ needs, and a commitment to quality, complaints and feedback. 

Assistant Director Amanda Daniels says “We had to pass rigorous desktop audits and these were followed up by on site audits and interviews, including examination of our case files, policies and procedures.  As in the first two audits we passed with flying colours!  We provided a comprehensive demonstration that all of our systems are to the required standard and in many areas significantly above what is required.   Holding the SQM demonstrates our commitment to the provision of quality services. To achieve the standard we continually improve our systems, our staff and volunteers take quality seriously and work extremely hard to maintain these standards. All of this ensures increased client and funder confidence.

 

Denise Inger CEO commented; 

 “We are delighted to have secured our SQM standard for the next three years and to be recognised as an organisation that excels in providing quality services for families throughout Wales.  Providing our families with the highest levels of client care is one of our core values.

This accreditation is proof of our commitment to delivering a quality service. It is a formal recognition of the way in which we work, clients come first and we always act in their best interests.  It also reflects our thorough in-house systems and processes which enable us to be more effective and efficient in our service delivery.  We invest in people and new technology, to give an accurate, efficient service that is good value.”

 

 

 

(Assistant Directors Caroline Rawson and Amanda Daniels and CED Denise Inger)

 

Draft law on autism – your views are wanted

Draft law on autism – your views are wanted

On 22 February 2018, the National Assembly for Wales published a draft law on autism for comment. The draft law has been developed by backbench Conservative Assembly Member Paul Davies. As drafted, the Bill would require the Welsh Government to publish an autism strategy and guidance on how it should be used.  

The current Welsh Government already has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan, but the Bill would make sure there would always be an autism strategy (and that the strategy included certain principles), even if the government changed.

Background

Spring 2017: the proposed legislation was carried forward following a ballot of back-bench Assembly Member’s suggestions, won by Paul Davies AM. National Autistic Society worked closely with members and supporters to help Paul draft a Bill that will best meet the needs of autistic people and their families in Wales.
Autumn 2017: consultation was launched on what an Autism Act should include. Responses were received by mid November.
2018: the development of the draft Autism (Wales) Bill was based on responses to the initial consultation on the general concept of an Autism Bill. Now, Paul Davies AM is publishing his draft Autism Act to ask how it could be improved.

Consultation

Please read the draft Bill and share your views in response to the consultation. You can either answer the questions in the consultation document or send your thoughts to consultation.autismbill@assembly.wales. You can find the consultation documents on their website. Easy read versions that Learning Disability Wales assisted National Assembly are also available:

http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/mgConsultationdisplay.aspx?Id=293

The consultation closes on 17 April 2018.

What will happen next?

After people have had the chance to have their say on the draft Bill, there will be a vote in the National Assembly that decides whether or not the law will be allowed to proceed. Whilst there will still be further debate and scrutiny of the Bill and what an Autism Act could include, this will be a further opportunity for lobbying around the Bill.

 

Additional Learning Needs Reform – Update NOV 2017

The Welsh Government’s stated objective for a fully “ inclusive education system for Additional Learning Needs is around creating a system that’s flexible and responsive to the changing needs of learners; that is supported by a workforce who have the skills and experience and confidence to deliver that system really effectively.  That have a good understanding of evidence based practice to inform their work to make sure that the strategies and interventions being put in place for learners really are tailored to meet those individual needs.”  The aims include:

  • Embedding Principles of PCP
  • Welsh language duties
  • Statutory ‘IDPs’ for all learners with ALN
  • Local authorities to become responsible for post-16 specialist placements
  • Focus on early intervention
  • Statutory ALNCOs
  • Strengthened role for the health service
  • Avoidance and early resolution of disagreements

The intention is to provide a more pupil centred approach so you’ll hear lots about person-centred practice and most LA’s across Wales have already had training in this area and have begun to use one page profiles and PC style reviews. SNAP Cymru feels parents and YP should also have this training if they are to participate effectively.

The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal Wales Bill, or ALNET Bill, remains the cornerstone of the reform. Changing the legislation is the central part of what the WG are doing but changing the law alone won’t affect the practice and cultural change they hope for.

The WG ‘transformation programme’ which includes supporting the implementation of the legislative changes has five reported strands:

  • WG Legislation and statutory guidance
  • Workforce development
  • Implementation/ transition support
  • Awareness-raising
  • Supporting policy

Part of this is creating a new ALN Code to replace the current SEN Code of Practice and Regulations the detailed information to support the implementation of the Bill.  The new Code will have mandatory requirements that have the same weight in law as regulations, as well as good practice and guidance that Schools and LA’s etc  must have due regard for. The new Code and regulation will be introduced in draft for consultation next year. Look out for it and take every opportunity to respond.

We understand that the Welsh Government is preparing a workforce development programme with three tiers:

  1. Core skills development – making sure that all those people that are involved in supporting learners with ALN have access to professional learning and development opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge around how to best support learners with ALN.  
  2. specialist skills development – to target local authority provided specialist support services, i.e. advisory teachers for hearing impairment, vision impairment or multi-sensory impairment, educational psychologists.
  3. ALNCo, or Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator role, which will replace the current SENCo role and will be put on a statutory footing. An intensive programme of professional development.

Awareness raising

The WG are intending to engage stakeholders about their new duties and powers under the new system, but as important we believe is the way these changes are shared with children and young people and families so that they can understand the new system and ensure they’re aware of the changes.  The original engagement events were difficult for all but a small amount of parents to attend, hopefully the WG will be aware of this and offer more accessible timings and locations for future events   

Where are we now….

Stage 1- The Children, Young People and Education Committee consulted initially, taking evidence in relation to the Bill as introduced, and scrutinising the detail of it. There were 69 recommendations from the committees

These were broadly around

  • the role of the NHS in the new system.
  • Having a Mandatory national IDP-that the new Code when it comes to fruition will include a standard template that all practitioners will have to use- (see the link to Gwynedd’s IDP as an example at the end of this update.)
  • Early Years – non-maintained providers having to have regard to the new Code and the LA’s having an ‘ALN Early Years Lead Officer’.

Stage 2 – detailed consideration by the Assembly Committee of the Bill line by line – completed see report below.

Stage 3 –  The deadline for developing and securing Ministerial agreement and cross-party support for amendments are scheduled to be debated and voted on  Tuesday 21 November 2017.

Royal Assent – probably January 2018

Formal consultation on the Code and Regulations 2018

Training and awareness raising Spring 2019

Implementation (probably) September 2019.

 

Appointment of ALN leads

A small team of ALN transformation leads have been appointed and will support local authorities, schools, early years settings, further education institutions and other delivery partners to prepare for and manage transition to the new ALN system. They will also have the responsibility for assessing readiness, compliance and impact monitoring of the  LA’s, in their consortia area or the FE’s across Wales  (4 x consortia leads & 1 FE lead)

Implementation

Consultation on how to implement the Bill ended early summer 2017. A summary of responses which will provide a breakdown of the views expressed will inform how the Government decides its approach for implementation. (not yet published)

The WG will circulate a detailed transition guide to statutory bodies once the Bill has Royal Assent.

The options explored :

  • Learners that have already got statements will be the first cohort of learners to be moved onto an IDP.
  • Learners at significant points of transition, so those moving between settings, those moving from primary school into secondary school, or out of secondary school into FE, those sorts of key transition points being the learners that go first.

Useful links.

  • 116 amendments have been agreed so far, which made changes to the Bill. An amended version of the Bill is available on the Assembly’s website where you can find other information on and follow the progress of the Bill:

 http://senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=16496

  • Summary of changes at Stage 2 Summary of stage 2 changes to the Bill

https://seneddresearch.blog/2017/11/13/new-publication-additional-learning-needs-and-education-tribunal-wales-bill-summary-of-changes-at-stage-2/

  •  WG ALNET Transformation Programme

http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/additional-learning-special-educational-needs/transformation-programme/awareness-raising/?lang=en

http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/161221-educational-psychologists-wales-guidance-en.pdf

Please contact amanada.daniels@snapcymru for further information or use the referral form on our contact page for direct support.

 

ALN Bill update

The story so far…..

The ALNET Bill was referred to the Children, Young People and Education Committee for scrutiny and consideration of the general principles in November 2016 and  a deadline of 12 May 2017 was set for the Committee to report on its general principles.

The committee met with and heard from many stakeholders; including the views of children and young people with ALN through an online survey and parents and carers of those with ALN at an event facilitated by SNAP Cymru.  

The committee supported much of the general principles of the Bill, although the evidence they received highlighted many concerns about implementation.

 “Simply passing the legislation will not address the deeper underlying problems within the current system.” Lynne Neagle Chair

Nobody should underestimate the scale of this agenda. Over 100,000 pupils in schools have SEN or ALN, which is over one in five of all children. The Committee has made 48 recommendations aimed at strengthening not just the Bill itself, but also the wider proposals for reform of the system.

The key issues that emerged and recommendations are included in the Committees  publication 

The deadline for Stage 2 committee proceedings has been amended from 21 July 2017 to 20 October 2017 following concerns raised by SNAP Cymru regarding the cost savings in the Bill.   SNAP Cymru felt the figures were drastically inaccurate and did not agree with the Government’s view ‘that disagreements will automatically be reduced as a result of the introduction of the bill’  Rather, SNAP Cymru fear there may be an increase in disagreements during transition in the short term.  

SNAP Cymru Casework with concerned families ahead of the implementation  of the Bill has risen by 13% in the last year and the number of ‘problems or issues’ brought by individual families to our service has doubled.

Options for implementing the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill where consulted on from February – June this year and the responses are still being reviewed. Details of the outcome will be published here  in due course.

It is clear that there should be a mandatory phase to ensure the successful implementation of the new Bill, however SNAP Cymru continue to be concerned that LA’s are rolling out IDP’s before the legal framework is in place,  leaving current IDP’s as non statutory plans for children and young people.  If parents have concerns they should contact our telephone advice line 08451203730

For a summary of the Bill>

 

Consultation – options for implementing the ALNET Bill

The Welsh Government is currently consulting on options for how the Additional Learning Needs and Tribunal (Wales) Bill is implemented.

The ALNET Bill will create a single, unified framework for supporting learners with additional learning needs. The current range of statutory and non-statutory learning plans will be replaced by individual development plans (IDPs). This will ensure that provision and rights are protected regardless of the severity or complexity of needs.

For details go to the Welsh Government consultation 

Please submit your responses by 9 June 2017

The draft Additional Learning Needs Code has been published to assist with scrutiny of the ALNET Bill.

Following the publication of the draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill on December 16th 2016, a  draft Additional Learning Needs Code has been published alongside the  Bill to assist with Stage 1 scrutiny.

The introduction to the new draft code reminds everyone that all those listed in the code must have regard for the code and that its been primarily designed for ‘their purposes’, however others (e.g. parents, specialist advisers or advocates) might find it useful.   At 236 pages make sure you have enough time to put aside for some light reading!

Details of the Bill and its expected progress are found here.  

Thank you to all those parents who attended a parent stakeholder event on the 9th of February in Cardiff – your views will be published and help inform the scrutiny committee response –  the transcript will be published here

We will be keeping a close eye on the Bill as it progresses through the various stages before it receives Royal Assent. Denise Inger SNAP Cymru’s Director will be giving evidence to the committee in March.

The Bill will continue to be scrutinised by the Children, Young People and Education Committee to consider and report on the general principles. The Committee is due to report to the Assembly by 12 May 2017. Stage 2 proceedings should be completed by 14 July 2017 wit h Royal assent this Autumn.  Those of you wishing to send a written consultation responses on the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) should  do so by Friday 3 March.

Please contact the SNAP Cymru helpline if you have any concerns

 

 

 

Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill: Stakeholder Event feedback

On 26 January 2017 the Welsh Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee sought advice in respect of reforming how children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are supported.

Stakeholders were asked to respond to questions which covered the following areas:-

  • Replacing the three-tier system with Individual Development Plans (IDPs) for all learners with ALN- What are the advantages and disadvantages of replacing the current three tier, graduated system with one where all learners with ALN are entitled to a statutory Individual Development Plan (IDP)?
  • Responsibility for Individual Development Plans (IDPs): Governing body or local authority and does the Bill make it sufficiently clear when a local authority, rather than a school/college governing body, will be responsible for assessing a learner’s needs and for the learner’s IDP?
  • A comprehensive, age 0-25 system- Is there enough focus in the Bill on ALN in early years and should young people undertaking work-based learning such as apprenticeships also be included if the Bill is to establish a comprehensive age 0-25 system?
  • How adequate are the duties in the Bill in securing the necessary input and contribution from Multi-agency partners?
  • Fairness, transparency and dispute resolution- How adequate are the Bill’s provisions for independent advocacy, disagreement avoidance and resolution and access to information and advice for learners with ALN and their families?
  • Does the Bill provide the renamed Tribunal with enough powers and functions to carry out its role effectively?
  • What will be the main challenges for implementation- financial or otherwise?
The Committee has now published a Summary of Evidence following the event. The participants welcomed aspects of the bill such as the equity in providing a 0-25 system and the the emphasis on all children and YP with ALN having the same opportunities for redress to the tribunal, although they did share some serious concerns that the proposed reforms to support are relatively ambiguous, and do not provide sufficient levels of accountability. See the responses here 
The committee is currently seeking views from those who are affected by the proposed changes.  Responses should be returned by the 24 February

 

ALN Bill Scrutiny

The ALN Bill has begun its scrutiny by the Children, Young People and Education committee before being debated by the National Assembly. The committee is currently seeking views  from those who are affected by the proposed changes.
The Welsh Government will publish an ALN code that will support people to work in accordance with the new law. The code will be published to support the scrutiny of the Bill in February.

 

The National Assembly for Wales have published a research briefing that provides more information on ALN in Wales and the process thus far.

 

You can also read the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum on the National Assembly for Wales website. The Explanatory Memorandum includes an overview of the Bill (see pages 27 – 42) and a section on changes made to the draft version of the Bill (see pages 47-59).