PACEY Cymru gave evidence on the draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill to the Welsh Assembly's Children, Young People and Education Committee at the Senedd on the 16th March. This followed PACEY Cymru's consultation response on the Bill. Claire Protheroe, Direct Services Manager (Wales) was one of a panel of five made up of experts from childcare and early years and health who gave evidence in Evidence Session 11 on the day.
Some of the key points raised in both our consultation response and in the evidence session on the day are detailed below. PACEY Cymru's full response to the consultation can be read here.
PACEY Cymru welcome the step this Bill provides to ensure there is consistency in support for all learners from 0 – 25 years with Additional Learning Needs (ALN). This includes recognition of the importance of early identification of ALN, timely support and flexibility to adapt plans promptly in order to meet individual needs. PACEY Cymru also welcomes the recognition that the Bill gives to the role that childcare providers, along with other professionals, have in identifying needs and concerns in the early years. The role of the Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo.) within each childcare and early years settings is, and will continue to be, key in relation to liaison.
PACEY Cymru advocates for parental choice and a child-centred approach, which places the needs of the child on an individual basis first. In this respect, the ALN Bill should allow for consideration on an individual basis of the most suitable approach, format and setting to meet the needs of a child in the pre-school years. Whilst it is extremely important that all settings are inclusive and open to children with ALN, not all children thrive in a formal education or mainstream setting specifically in the early years. Assessment of the needs of a child should be focused on their needs and interests, where children and families identify alternative options would better meet their needs, these should be available.
PACEY Cymru also commented how the definition of Additional Learning Needs provision for the under threes needs to be re-considered to ensure this is childcare focused rather than education focused.
PACEY Cymru welcome the recent release by CSSIW of a guide to support implementation of the new inspection framework, which provides good practice guidance with a strong emphasis on meeting children’s individual needs. There is good practice guidance under section 2.3 on ALN which could help to guide the childcare and early years on supporting the implementation of the new ALN Bill. The introduction of ratings should also encourage childcare providers to raise standards of care in this respect. There again needs to be a consistent approach in relation to the Bill and Additional Needs Code within the inspection framework and this make need to be looked at more closely by CSSIW to ensure standardisation of regulation and inspection.
PACEY Cymru understand that there are plans for local authorities to roll out information and training to support ‘core skills development’ within plans for workforce development, which is welcomed. As the reach of the ALN Bill includes children younger than those in settings funded to deliver education training, information and support needs to be promoted to, available and accessible to the wider childcare and early years sector. Having not traditionally fallen within the remit of educational needs, it will be especially important to ensure that settings are aware of and understand the ALN Bill, and are able to respond to this in the service they provide.
There is a clear need to ensure that any associated changes to legislation are supported by appropriate clear communications, training and resources for the sector and that there is consistency in an approach across Wales. PACEY Cymru will be working to ensure the revision of existing resources related to ALN and will continue to ensure members are kept up to date in relaiton to any further developments.
If you have any queries on this please contact the Wales office on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0845 8801299.