All posts in “Policy”

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.


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.


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 You can find the consultation documents on their website. Easy read versions that Learning Disability Wales assisted National Assembly are also available:

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)


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:

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

  •  WG ALNET Transformation Programme

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).

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