Additional Learning Needs in Wales - What's Happening?



Additional Learning Needs in Wales:

The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018

The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill was passed by the National Assembly for Wales on 12 December 2017 and became an Act on 24 January 2018 after receiving Royal Assent.

This will create the legislative framework to improve the planning and delivery of additional learning provision, through a person-centred approach to identifying needs early, putting in place effective support and monitoring, and adapting interventions to ensure they deliver desired outcomes.

The Act will be supported by:

  • regulations – secondary legislation where further detail is required
  • an ALN Code – statutory guidance and mandatory requirements to help people and organisations work within the law.


The Act will:

Introduce the term Additional Learning Needs (ALN)

The Act replaces the terms ‘special educational needs’ (SEN) and ‘learning difficulties and/or disabilities’ (LDD) with the new term ALN.

A 0-25 Age Range: 

There will be a single legislative system relating to the support given to children and young people aged between 0-25 years who have ALN. This is instead of the two separate systems currently operating to support children and young people of compulsory school age who have SEN; and young people in further education who have LDD. As a result, transition of learners between school and post-16 education will be improved to allow greater support and rights for this group of learners. 

A Unified Plan:

The Act will create a single statutory plan (the Individual Development Plan (IDP)) to replace the existing variety of statutory and non-statutory SEN plans for learners in schools and further education. 

Increased Participation of Children and Young People:

The Act requires that learners’ views should always be considered as part of the planning process, along with those of their parents. It is imperative that children and young people see the planning process as something which is done with them rather than to them.

High Aspirations and Improved Outcomes:

The emphasis of IDPs will be on making provision that delivers outcomes that contribute in a meaningful way to the child or young person’s achievement of their full potential.

The process of producing and revising an IDP should be much simpler than is currently the case with statements of SEN. 

Increased Collaboration:

The new system will support a strong focus on collaboration.  Encouraging improved collaboration and information sharing between agencies, which are essential to ensuring that needs are identified early and the right support is put in place to enable children and young people to achieve positive outcomes. 

Avoiding Disagreements and Earlier Disagreement Resolution:

The new system will focus on ensuring that where disagreements occur about an IDP or the provision it contains, the matter is considered and resolved at the most local level possible.

Clear and Consistent Rights of Appeal:

Where disagreements about the contents of an IDP cannot be resolved at the local level, the ActBill will ensure that children and young people entitled to an IDP (and their parents in the case of those that are under 16 years) will have a right of appeal to a tribunal.