Moving to the New System
When will the changes take place?
Children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) will all move from the SEN system to the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) system between January 2022 and August 2024. From January 1st 2022, Individual Development Plans (IDPs) will begin to replace plans that currently support children with SEN.
The Welsh Government has set out the arrangements for the first year of implementing the ALN changes in new guidance:
A technical guide to implementing the Act during the first year of implementation (2021 to 2022)
A practitioner guide to the implementation of the Act during 2021 to 2022
These documents set out the arrangements for the first year of implementing the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 (the ALN Act), including a timetable for specific groups of children to move to the new ALN system.
It outlines what local authorities, schools and PRUs MUST do in terms of:
- moving children from the SEN system to the ALN system
- deciding if children have ALN and where required, preparing and maintaining individual development plans (IDPs)
There is also a guide for parents and families about how children will move to the additional learning needs (ALN) system between September 2021 and August 2022
The parents and families guide:
- introduces the new ALN System;
- outlines what difference it makes for children, their parents, and young people;
- describes the legal role of Individual Development Plans
- explains the new way of working, including rights and disagreement resolution process
- sets out when and how children and young people will move to the new system on a phased basis over the next 3 years under the phased
The guidance covers the move away from the existing Statements of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and the processes set out in Part 4 of the Education Act 1996.
It also covers the process set out in the ‘Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales (2002)’ in relation to children who receive provision through ‘school action and school action plus’.
Children and young people moving to the new system
From September 1st 2021.
From September ‘new children’ with ALN will move to the new system.
From January the 1st 2022
Children who attend a maintained school (including a PRU) and who have already identified SEN, will begin to move to the new system. Not all year groups will transfer to the new system at the same time.
Children and young people will be moved to the new system gradually following this timetable:
|Spring and summer terms, school year 2021 to 2022||
Nursery Years 1 or 2, Year 1
Year 3 ,Year 5, Year 7 and Year 10
School year 2022 to 2023
Children with provision via school action/school action plus:
Any children who were in Nursery, Year 1, Year 3, Year 5, Year 7 and Year 10 in 2021/22 who were not moved to the ALN system during 2021/22)
Children with provision via statements:
Nursery, Reception, Year 6, Year 10 and Year 11.
School year 2023 to 2024
Children with provision via school action/school action plus:
Nursery, year 2, Year 4, Year 6, Year 8 and Year 10
Children with provision via statements:
Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5, Year 6, Year 8, Year 9 and Year 10.
Year 11 and Post 16
Implementation for young people post-16 will involve a ‘flow through’ approach, where those currently in year 10 and below, who are being moved to the ALN system by a school or local authority during the implementation period, will ‘flow through’ into FE with an individual development plan (IDP) already in place.
Until the ALN Act applies to a young person, the Education Act 1996 and the Learning and Skills Act 2000 will continue to apply and they will continue to benefit from the support available via the existing Special Educational Needs and Learning Difficulty and Disability systems, respectively.
The Welsh Government is currently responsible for securing specialist post-16 provision for young people whose education and training needs cannot be met via mainstream provision, under the Learning and Skills Act 2000. As part of the ALN Act, this responsibility will transfer to local authorities. This move will take place gradually, with local authorities becoming responsible for those who have been moved to the ALN Act from 2022/23 (those currently in year 10 and below).
The Welsh Government will continue to secure and fund specialist post-16 placements for those young people who have not yet been moved to the ALN system (those currently in Year 11 and above). Any funding for placements agreed by Welsh Ministers before the end of the 2024-25 school year will remain available to young people until they complete their agreed program of study.
0 -5 in a non maintained Early years setting
Parents of children aged 0-5 who do not attend a nursery or maintained EY’ provision at a school can ask the local authority now to assess if the child has ALN and, if required, provide an IDP.
IDP and NO IDP notices
To enable this to happen, schools and PRUs must give an ‘IDP notice or a ‘no IDP notice’ to the children in the above groups, and their parents, at some point during the spring and summer terms of the 2021 to 2022 school year.
The Welsh Government Guidance says “It is likely that children who have special educational provision (SEP) via school action/school action plus on 1 January 2022 will have ALN” and will therefore have an ‘IDP notice’.
The parents’ guide to implementation states “having ALN is the same as having SEN” and it is “likely” that learners with SEN who currently receive Special Educational Provision (SEP), will have ALN and therefore be entitled to an IDP.
If a school or PRU does not issue a no IDP notice to a learner in a mandated year group who currently has SEN, that learner will automatically move to the ALN system at the end of the school year and be entitled to an IDP.
Learners or their parents can ask the local authority to reconsider a school or PRU’s decision and, if they are unhappy with its response, can appeal to the Education Tribunal for Wales. The Tribunal’s decisions are legally binding and can be enforced via the courts, the Welsh Government or the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
Children and young people ‘not moving’ to the ALN system in the first year of implementation
Some groups of children and young people are not included in the groups which will move in the first year. These include children or young people who, on 1 January 2022:
- are over compulsory school age (16 +)
- are in Year 11, (other than where they are detained)
- have a statement of SEN
- children with SEN who do not attend a maintained setting – (This includes children EOTAS and children who are registered at independent schools or non-maintained nurseries, or who are electively home educated.)
- children who have a ‘pipeline case’ (A pipeline case refers to instances were a child or young person is in a process relating to the SEN statement system (Ed Act 1996) i.e. Statutory assessment, where a statement has already been given but there is an ongoing appeal in relation to its content, or where the local authority is trying to cease to maintain the statement)
Until a child or young person moves to the new system, the existing SEN system and law remains in place for them.
Local authorities, schools and PRUs must continue to comply with the Education Act 1996 and regulations made under it and with the arrangements set out in the ‘Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales 2002’. In addition, the Learning and Skills Act 2000 continues to apply in full to children in Year 11 and to young people.
The two systems’ will be operating alongside each other from September 2021-2024, the new ALN system and the original SEN system.
Although the SEN legislation remains in force, and special educational provision (SEP) must continue to be provided until a child moves to the ALN system, the provisions of Part 4 of the Education Act 1996 that remain in force are limited.
This means that children captured above cannot be given a statement of SEN or ask for an SEN assessment.
Children, or their parents, can however ask for an ‘IDP notice’ from their school or ‘an ALN notice’ to be given from the LA.
If you have questions, or need more information, you can scroll down to read through our frequently asked questions, we’ve covered many different topics to make things clear for everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve put together a number of questions and answers relating to the transition to the new system:
How will schools, PRUs and local authorities move children to the ALN system?
Most children will move from the SEN system to the ALN system when their school, PRU or local authority gives them an IDP notice.
An IDP notice means a school, PRU or local authority has decided a child has ALN and an IDP will be made for the child.
These notification letters will begin to be sent to parents following the timetable above.
Where schools or PRUs have given IDPs prior to 1 January 2022, for example as part of a pilot, those IDPs have no effect in law.
When a child who has an IDP that was prepared prior to January 2022 is moved from the SEN system to the ALN system, an IDP notice or a no IDP notice (as appropriate) will need to be given to the child and their parent.
My child has SEN and has support through school action/school action plus. Will my child have ALN and have an IDP?
The meaning of SEN and ALN are the same. It is likely children with SEN will have ALN. All children who have ALN will have an IDP.
On occasion, a child who had SEN will not have ALN because their needs have changed and they no longer need additional support to help them learn.
The child will be issued with a no IDP notice.
If you do not agree with the no IDP notice you should talk to the nursery, school, PRU about it. You can also contact SNAP Cymru on 0808 801 0608 for further advice
You can also ask can ask the local authority to reconsider a local authorty, school or PRU decision. If you are still dissatisfied with the local authority decision, you can appeal to the Education Tribunal for it to decide.
Can I ask to move to the new system?
In addition to the set transfer dates, parents of EY’s children and school age children with SEN can ask their school or the LA to move them to the new system at any time from 1 January 2022 onwards. (see our template letters on our ‘get help page’)
If a child has education in more than one place, such as a school and a PRU, or is looked after, a request to move to the ALN system should be made to the local authority.
Can I request an IDP notice ?
At present children captured by Commencement Order 5, (children who attend a maintained school or PRU up to, and including Year 10, and who have special educational provision (SEP) via school action/school action plus and who fall into one of the following mandated years on 1 January 2022: Nursery Years 1 or 2, Year 1, Year 3, Year 5, Year 7 or Year 10 ) or their parents, have a right to make a request at any time, to the school or PRU, that an IDP notice is given. The request can be made either verbally or in writing. Putting the request in writing is probably better- see our letter templates page.
The school or PRU MUST give an ‘IDP notice’ or a ‘no IDP notice’ within 15 school days of the request. As above, where the school or PRU considers the child has ALN and gives an IDP notice the school or PRU MUST prepare an IDP within 35 school days of the date of the notice, other than where exceptions or exceptional circumstances apply.
The ALNCo has responsibility for ensuring that a child’s ALN are identified and records are kept of decisions about ALN and IDPs. This includes the date upon which a request is made and the date upon which the decision about whether to give an IDP notice or a no IDP notice is made. ALNCos may choose to undertake this task themselves or arrange for the task to be undertaken by others.
The right to request an IDP notice enables those children who are dissatisfied with the SEP delivered via school action/school action plus to move to the ALN system earlier than they are due to move and to benefit from the rights provided by the ALN Act.
What can I do if a school or PRU ‘refuses to make a decision’ regarding my child’s ALN?
If a school or PRU refuses to make a decision and issue an IDP notice or No IDP notice, you can request that the Local Authority reconsider the decision.
If a school has refused to make a decision about the matter, the local authority MUST decide whether or not the child has ALN. You should write to the Local Authority requesting them to do so. Refusing to make a decision is appealable to the Education Tribunal.
What is a ‘No IDP notice’?
A child who currently has SEN may be given a ‘NO’ IDP notice. The no IDP notice means the school, PRU or local authority have decided the child does not have ALN and an IDP will not be made for the child.
Children may be given a no IDP notice because:
- their needs have changed and they no longer have ALN and need additional learning provision
- their needs can be met within the universal provision(the support provided for all children) in the school
If a school decides that the child does not have ALN, it MUST notify the parent of the decision and the reasons for the decision.
As well as setting out the decision and the reasons for it, the notification to the child and the child’s parent must give:
- contact details for the school
- information about how to access the local authority’s information and advice service
- details of the local authority’s arrangements for resolving disagreements and its advocacy services
- information about the right to request the that the local authority re-considers the school decision
- contact details for the responsible local authority.
The notification should outline what action the school will take to make sure the child’s needs (which are not ALN) will be supported. This might include different classroom teaching strategies, which could be recorded in a one page profile.
If you do not agree with a decision made by the school, PRU or local authority to give a ‘no IDP notice’ you should write to the school and ask for a meeting to discuss your concerns. You can contact SNAP Cymru for help , or use our template letter below
If you are still not happy with the decision made by the school or PRU you can ask the local authority to reconsider the decision.
You can use the template letter below. Do talk to SNAP Cymru who can help you with this.
‘LA letter to request reconsideration of school NO IDP notice’
See Reconsideration of school decisions and Making an Appeal
You can contact SNAP Cymru for further information on 0808 801 0608
What is a Pipeline Case'?
Children who have a ‘pipeline case’ will not move from the SEN system to the ALN system in the first year of implementation.
A ‘pipeline case’ refers to those cases where a child or young person is in a process relating to the SEN statement system provided for in the Education Act 1996.
There are several types of pipeline cases:
A pre-statement pipeline is where a child or young person does not have a statement but is requesting a statement. (Statutory Assessment Process) This pipeline could end by a statement being given or by no statement being given and a Note in Lieu being given. (there are appeal rights here)
A statement pipeline is where a statement has already been given and there is:
- an appeal in relation to its content
- the local authority is trying to cease to maintain the statement
In the first year of implementation, children on school action/school action plus who are involved in a process related to the SEN statement process on 1 September 2021, and who continue to be involved in that pipeline case on 1 January 2022, will not move to the ALN system until the second or third year.
Children captured by the commencement orders cannot get into a pipeline case and consequently, no new statements will be given to children covered by the commencement orders
What is an ALN Notice?
A local authority may only give an ALN notice in certain circumstances.
However, the local authority may of its own volition and at any time, give an ALN notice to a child and the child’s parents.
The effect of the ALN notice is that the ALN system applies to the child or young person on the date of the notice and the SEN system ceases to apply on that date.
As a result, the duties provided for in the ALN Act an all other related laws, including the ALN Code, apply from that date.
The ALN notice does not involve the local authority making a decision about whether the child has ALN.
If a child is registered at a school or PRY they would request an IDP notice rather than an ALN notice.
The purpose of allowing a local authority to give an ALN notice is to enable a local authority to move a child to the ALN system outside of their mandated year.
A child’s needs may have increased beyond the SEN provision that can be delivered in a mainstream school. Without the power to give an ALN notice, the local authority would not be able to make a decision about whether the child has ALN and, where required, prepare an IDP.
In addition, it is not possible for a school or a PRU to request that a local authority undertake a statutory assessment or issue a statement for a child captured by Commencement Orders 5 and 6. Because of this, it would not be possible for the local authority to place the child in a special school as the old law requires that a child attending a special school should have a statement.
Children captured by Commencement Order 5, and their parents, can request the appropriate local authority move them to the ALN system earlier than planned by requesting an ALN notice, and following such a request the appropriate local authority must give an ALN notice.