All posts in “Policy”

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).

Overhaul of how the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN) are assessed and met

This year and next new reforms will overhaul how the needs of children with special educational needs (SEN) are assessed and met.

This December the new Additional Learning needs Bill was presented to the Welsh Assembly and pass through several stages before becoming Law next Autumn. This will begin several years of replacing SEN statements with Individual Development Plans. Changes to assessment are designed to place the child and their family at the centre of consultations with Schools and  local authorities (LAs)and make the whole process more integrated, collaborative which should facilitate early, timely and effective support

A fair and transparent system of resolving concerns

Many families have concerns that LAs as pre-destined to deny families the provision they want or feel their child needs, and cast statutory assessment as a fight of David versus Goliath proportions. Perhaps inevitably, battle-lines get drawn in some minds before they even approach the LA.  The new process will hopefully change this ‘fight’.

SNAP Cymru has always provided measured guidance for parents who are dissatisfied with school or LA’s responses and our intention has always been to help families avoid the prospect of legal action or costly, stressful disputes over what ought to be a collaborative process between families and professionals based on the best interest of the child.

The new Bill and code of practice (which will follow next Spring/summer), suggests a move away from the widespread default model.  It emphasises the significance of “high quality teaching” and high aspirations for children as part of a ‘transformation programme’ and workforce development.

When the English reforms took place from 2014 onward, and statements were changed to Education and Health Care plans the English government announced a £30m scheme to train “independent supporters to assist parents through the SEN process and their request for an EHCP. No such money on the horizon here just innovation funding for LA’s to plan for the process.

The Welsh Government Law will describe a fair and transparent system for providing information and advice, and for resolving disagreements, although there are concerns that Local Authorities may take this opportunity to reject independent support and advice preferring to take services ‘in -house’ as happened in Pembrokeshire.  Whilst these service are informative (many appoint ex SNAP Cymru  staff)  it can never offer a reliable  independent perspective.

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, (The SEN Code of Practice can be accessed on our website) and must continue to accept requests for Statutory assessments  and write and maintain Statements of Special Educational Needs.

You could help shape this Bill

SNAP Cymru will be supporting the Welsh Government Children, Young People and Education Committee to ‘hear’ parent’s voices to assist them with the scrutiny of the Bill.  If you are a parent of a child with SEN,  informed about the reform so far, passionate and have a real interest in sharing your perspective with the AMs on this committee – give us a call or send us an email- we may be able to offer you place to have your views heard.

You can also contact your local AM who can feed your views into the process.

If you’ve received a great service from SNAP Cymru and are concerned about the potential loss of Independent support and Parent partnership from the Bill and COP or the way in which this could be weakened- let your AMs know.

There is an exciting time ahead for SEN,  moving from one system to another and replacing statements with IDPs could be great news, but it also has the potential to cause anxiety for lots of parents.  SNAP Cymru is here to support family concerns through this process.  If you are worried or have any questions, please contact us through our helpline 0845 1203730 helpline or directly to or 01554778288.



SNAP Cymru – supporting children and families for the past 30 years

We are so proud and delighted to celebrate 30 years of SNAP Cymru. Taking forward the inclusion agenda for children and young people and trailblazing a partnership approach to problem solving in education.

30 Year Celebration Brochure

In 1986 the charities Scope and Mencap won a grant to set up an independent Parent Partnership service in South Wales.  This was in response to these organisations being swamped with calls from families desperate for support to navigate the maze of assessment and provision for additional needs. In a few years the charity, then known as the Special Needs Advisory Project (SNAP) was truly independent and managed by Trustees in its own right.

As SNAP Cymru grew and spread throughout Wales we took on many more areas of work as needs were identified, including: Disagreement Resolution; Children’s Advocacy; Discrimination, and Appeals. Throughout all of this, accredited training, and quality management was put in place to support our staff, volunteers and others to improve the service offered at every level.

‘The BEST for Special Education’ – Welsh Office Green Paper

‘SNAP is unique to Wales and operates a parent support service in most parts of the country… Its work means that many disputes have been resolved without the need for an appeal (to SEN Tribunal)‘ The ‘BEST for Special Education’

Welsh Office Green Paper 1997

The Audit Commission Report identified the value and benefits to Parents from SNAP Cymru’s Parent Partnership Service support The Special Educational Needs and Disability Act of 2001 made PPS a statutory requirement of Local Authority funded activity and 20 local authorities in Wales commissioned the SNAP Cymru service.

Over the last 30 years were proud to have supported 70,000 families and helped to resolve 150,000 issues. 30 years on and families tell us they need this breadth of service more than ever. This is evidenced by the huge number of families accessing our services. Whether its parents grappling with the intricacies of requesting an assessment or a child wanting support from an advocate because of bullying, our staff and volunteers take up the issues and try to resolve them with all parties involved.

As the inclusion agenda drives forward , much has changed for the better – there are still mountains to climb.  But as we look back, we can all be proud of what SNAP Cymru has achieved with parents and partners. Our vision remains clear and we continue to champion change to improve policy, practice and provision for children, young people and their families.

“Parents have a unique knowledge and understanding of their child’s needs and as such play a crucial role in any decision making process. However we must remember that parents need to be fully informed so they can make constructive decisions, which have been based on all the evidence available. I continue to be impressed with the role SNAP Cymru plays in supporting parents throughout this often anxious time.” Jane Davidson, Minister for Education, Lifelong Learning & Skills 2000-2007

We are now present on some high streets recycling clothing and interesting items through our boutique style charity shops. Here we are gaining local volunteers and welcoming local communities in to experience the warmth of the SNAP Cymru family and find out more about how we might help them and how they might help others.

“SNAP Cymru offers an invaluable service to families in helping them to secure the education and support that their children need and are entitled to. They are an effective and powerful force in lobbying to improve the lives of their thousands of clients. If they did not exist then somebody would have to invent them. Peter Black AM 

SNAP Cymru would like to thank our families and young people, our volunteers, our staff our funders and all the professionals who make us welcome in their services. There is a new and exciting time coming to meet the additional needs of children and young people. We will bring 30 years of experience and dedication to this new era and look forward to seeing you all at our next landmark celebration.



Volunteers’ Week 2016

Volunteers’ Week is the biggest week in the volunteering calendar and recognises the contribution of local volunteers.  Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of volunteering! We hope you will join in and help to make this Volunteers’ Week one of the best to date.

This year, Volunteers’ Week will be held from 1-12 June 2016 (the extra week being included in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday) and will focus on ‘The Big Celebration’. We will be highlighting stories of individuals who already volunteer for us and who have made a huge difference within communities across Wales through their volunteering effort. It’s a real chance to celebrate and recognise our volunteers and invite others to take part.

We are delighted that Volunteers’ Week has been extended – even more reason to celebrate those wonderful individuals who offer their time to help others.  Dozens of individuals with all sorts of skills play a vital role in supporting SNAP Cymru to help children and families. We have volunteer family supporters, telephone helpline advisers, social media and marketing or fundraising experts, administrators, Van drivers, warehouse support, retail volunteers in our charity shops and many many, more.  Volunteering Week gives us the opportunity to shine the spotlight on these volunteers and give them the recognition and thanks they deserve.

We will be profiling some of our volunteers on our Facebook, please have a look and share with others

We are always looking for more volunteers and are particularly targeting volunteers to help families on our helpline.  To sign up or for more info

Care and support in Wales has changed

From April, you will have more say in your social services.

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act came into force on 6 April. It is the new law for improving the well-being of people who need care and support, and carers who need support.

The Act changes the way people’s needs are assessed and the way services are delivered – people will have more of a say in the care and support they receive.

It also promotes a range of help available within the community to reduce the need for formal, planned support.

Services will be available to provide the right support at the right time

  • More information and advice will be available
  • Assessment will be simpler and proportionate
  • Carers will have an equal right to be assessed for support
  • There will be stronger powers to keep people safe from abuse and neglect. On 6 April 2016, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act came into force. It means that for the first time, there is separate social care legislation for Wales.
  • The new law aims to improve the well-being of people (children, adults and older people) who need personal care and support, and for carers who need support. This new law will directly affect families with disabled children in Wales.

Carers’ assessments

The Act imposes a duty on councils in Wales to assess the needs of carers who are providing or intending to provide care for a disabled child.

The Act removes the requirement in the previous legislation that carers should be providing a ‘substantial amount of care on a regular basis’ to have an assessment. This means families will be entitled to an assessment of needs as a carer regardless of level of need, the amount of care provided, whether or not the child cared for has had an assessment and even if the child has been considered ineligible for support. The Act also confirms there will be no upper or lower aged limit to being recognised as a carer.

Children with care needs

The Act will also affect the assessment and care process for children with disabilities and additional needs.

Under the Act, all children in need are eligible for a social care assessment, and importantly the Act states that there is a presumption that disabled children have needs for such care and support.

The needs assessment takes into account the outcomes the child would like to achieve and the outcomes their parents would like them to achieve, and determines whether care and support services can contribute to meeting these outcomes. The assessment will consider the child’s circumstances, capabilities, any barriers to meeting their outcomes and any risks if they are not met.

Councils can combine a children’s assessment and a carer’s assessment if it is beneficial to do so.

Further information

Further information:


Special afternoon tea at the House of Lords

SNAP Cymru promoting the role of the Welsh language in the third sector.

SNAP Cymru were delighted to attend afternoon tea last week at House of Lords , Westminster, invited by Baroness Grey- Thompson DBE  on behalf of The Welsh Language Commissioner and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

Huw Roberts our Welsh Champion and Trustee, and Rhys Wyn Parri our Families and Young People Officer from Gwynedd attended the event organised to promote the importance of the use of the Welsh language within the Third Sector.

Key speakers included Meri Huws, Welsh Language Commissioner and Ruth Marks,Chief Executive, WCVA followed by question and answer session – “it was nice to hear Welsh reverberate around the Lords .”

The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, said:

“For the first time ever, the Welsh language has official status in Wales. People, regardless of their age, background or area, have rights to expect they can live their lives through the medium of Welsh.

The third sector plays an increasingly important role in providing services for people in Wales. This is particularly true in areas such as care, advocacy and advice, where communication is a core part of the service, and also in social contexts such as sports and after-school clubs where there are opportunities to use the language in informal and fun ways.

Ruth Marks, Chief Executive of the WCVA, said:

“WCVA is proud to be a partner in this event at the House of Lords which gives a platform for us to talk about the importance of the Welsh language and the work of the third sector, with particular attention to the role of volunteers.

“Through volunteering, organizations can offer an opportunity for people to socialise through the medium of Welsh, or practice their language skills to improve their confidence and proficiency in an informal setting

We at SNAP Cymru are pleased to have completed our action plan for promoting the Welsh Language and will be continuing to make improvements around our Welsh language provision, which already includes independent information and advice in Welsh through our THL service, casework service, Bilingual website and information leaflets.

Following the event, Baron Wigley of Caernarfon showed Rhys and Huw around the House Of Lords…..or at least to the bar! “

Stakeholder Engagement Events – Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill

Welsh Government is hosting consultation events on the draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill

The draft Bill proposes a new legal framework to replace the existing legislation surrounding special educational needs and the assessment of children and young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in post-16 education and training.

The events will take place in

Venue Cymru, Llandudno on 24 November 2015 9.00-13.00


City Hall, Cardiff on 30 November 2015 9.00-13.00

Places are limited contact 029 2082 3777 or email to book

The agenda is as follows:

  • Address via videolink from the Minister for Education and Skills;
  • Presentation on the draft Bill and wider reform package;
  • Workshops in relation to the consultation on the draft Bill;
  • Q&A session, with a panel consisting of representatives for Welsh Government and the Association of Directors of Education Wales


1. Definition of Additional Learning Needs and the 0-25 age range – Discussion on where the focus of the definition should be, age range and responsibility for post-16 provision

2. Individual Development Plans and increased participation by children and young people – Discussion on responsibilities around IDPs, and how to place the learner at the heart of the process

3. High aspirations and improved outcomes – Discussion on the role of Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinators and the educational placement of learners with ALN.

4. Collaboration and multi-agency working – Discussion on expectations of multi-agency collaboration, and the role of health boards in delivering provision included in IDPs.

Please register early to attend as places are limited.