From September 2021, the way that children and young people’s special educational needs (SEN) will be identified, assessed and met in Wales, will change.
The Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and Educational Tribunal Act was passed in January 2018 and The ALN Code for Wales 2021 was issued in April 2021. This document sets out in detail how the ALN system will work in practice.
What are the reforms?
There will be some significant changes. For instance, as the name of the act suggests, the term ‘special educational needs (SEN)’ will be replaced by ‘additional learning needs (ALN)’. This in turn means that Special Education Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) will be known as Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinators (ALNCOs). School/Early Years Action, School/Early Years Action Plus will disappear and every child with recognised ALN, which requires Additional Learning Provision (ALP) will eventually be issued with a new statutory document called an Individual Development Plan (IDP). For those with an ALN who do not require ALP, a One Page Profile will be issued. This is not to be confused with individual education plans (IEP) which will also be phased out. Unlike statements, which stop when a young person leaves school, IDPs will continue up to 25 years of age if the young person goes onto further education.
Currently Statements of SEN will be gradually phased over to the new system and converted into IDPs in line with Welsh Government’s timeline.
The additional learning needs (ALN) transformation programme will transform the separate systems for special educational needs (SEN) in schools and learning difficulties and/or disabilities (LDD) in further education, to create a unified system for supporting learners from 0 to 25 with ALN. The transformed system will:
- ensure that all learners with ALN are supported to overcome barriers to learning and achieve their full potential
- improve the planning and delivery of support for learners from 0 to 25 with ALN, placing learners’ needs, views, wishes and feelings at the heart of the process
- focus on the importance of identifying needs early and putting in place timely and effective interventions which are monitored and adapted to ensure they deliver the desired outcomes.
The Welsh Government has produced an overview of the new system and has compiled answers to some frequently asked questions. Together they will give you a good idea of how the Welsh Government expect things to work. Visit for more information.
What happens next?
As the transition to the new system will involve major changes for local authorities, schools and further education colleges it will be introduced gradually and the Welsh Government has produced guidance explaining the timescales involved.
Each region has an appointed transformation lead who will:
- Play a critical role in overall implementation strategy
- Ensure LAs are prepared to deliver the new ALN system.
- Support and challenge local authorities, schools, early years settings and further education institutions.
- Coordinate the roll-out of implementation training on the Act, raise awareness and facilitate improvements in multi-agency working.
Appointed transformation leads are:
Margaret Davies, North Wales region; Huw Davies West Wales region; Liz Jones Central South; Tracey Pead, South East Wales; Chris Denham Further Education.