For those who may not know, the Welsh Government is seeking to reform the current legislation around special educational needs (SEN). Whilst The Children and Families Act 2014 made sweeping changes in England, Wales continues to operate on its current system. ALNET (To its friends) is currently at the stage one process in the Senedd and AMs are currently taking evidence from various sectors and practitioners.
Change has long been mooted, if you have 15 minutes, this clip sets out some of the work done through the ‘Statements or Something better?’ project. Its got a touch of an old VHS tape about it (perhaps to be forgiven, since it is almost ten years old) however, it covers the main points which now form part of the current bill. Or, you can read about it below.
Statements or Something Better?
Statements or Something Better?
The current draft of the bill is huge, a fundamental root and branch reform of the SEN system. Some of the major changes are below;
- Person-Centred Practice and reviews
- Introduction of the term Additional Learning Needs (ALN), replacing the term SEN
- Individual Development Plans instead of Statements of Educational Needs
- 0-25 model, with the inclusion of Further Education Institutions and elements of Work Based Learning
- Statutory role of the ALNCo and DECLo in education and health respectively.
- Removal of School Action and School Action Plus and the graduated response model itself.
- Changes to Early Years duties
I could go on, however, it is point 6 that I wish to discuss here. In its most basic form, a Pyramid best represents how the model works. Currently, the graduated response model is still operational in schools in Wales. Learners who have been identified that some support is needed are placed on school action and then, depending on need and the amount progress made, may progress onto school action plus if more support is needed. The top of the pyramid being those learners who require a statement of educational needs.
The idea being that any support and intervention is commensurate with the learner’s needs. Great in theory, the most complex learners at the top of the pyramid and those who need less support at the bottom. As soon as a learner leaves compulsory education and enter FE, there is no duty to undertake this approach and the support and commissioning arrangements are entirely down to each FE provider, all of whom will have different setups and mechanisms.
How does this change impact on FE?
Under the bill, this system will be removed and all learners who require support will be entitled to an Individual Development Plan (IDP). Those learners who were on school action, school action plus and those with a statement will potentially have an IDP that will transfer to the FE provider after the school placement has finished. This poses a number of questions;
- How do FEIs respond to the increased number of statutory plans and the duties contained within?
- How do FEIs respond to the duty to undertake an annual review?
- Do FEIs have the capacity and resources to support learners?
- What thresholds will need to be in place to ensure the right support for each student?
- How do FEIs ensure that transition and review is effective and robust?
- Will learners on an apprenticeship with the FEI be included?
Clearly, there is work to be done over the coming months and I look forward to working with colleagues across the various sectors in order to achieve better outcomes for learners with ALN.
FEIs have coped with change remarkably well over the last number of years.
Time for another.