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Special Educational Needs in Wales

Special Education Needs in Wales

The Welsh Government are currently proposing a new framework for supporting children and young people with Additional Learning Needs (ALN). This term is being increasingly used in Wales instead of Special Education Needs (SEN), to refer to children and young people who require extra support in school to ensure they can learn effectively according to their needs.

Information on the reforms can be found here.

The Welsh language

The Welsh and English languages must be treated equally when it comes to the provision of services. The SEN Code of Practice for Wales makes it clear that in the context of additional learning needs the individual Local Authority (LA) Welsh Language Schemes should ensure that their services, wherever possible, are delivered in Welsh and/or English according to the needs and wishes of the pupil and the parents.

It is important to identify the child’s home language as early as possible. The parental preference for Welsh medium or English medium educational support provision must be taken into consideration. When assessing a child's communication skills, materials in the preferred language of either English or Welsh should be made available whenever possible.

A key principle when communicating with parents is to provide information and advice in the language preferred by parents.

Speech and language therapy and educational services must also fulfil the requirements of the Welsh Language Act 1993 for pupils/students over 16 years of age.

Wales has its own Special Educational Needs Code of Practice, subject to possible change following the proposed new framework, currently under consultation. The National Assembly approved the current SEN Code of practice in November 2001 and LAs have been required to have regard to it from April 2002. You can download it here.

Contact a Family also have a useful guide for parents about the current ALN provision as well as the proposed reforms, you can find this here.

The SEN Tribunal

Change content to: Wales has its own ALN Tribunal system. There is currently a Draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill. The draft Bill explains proposals for a new system for supporting children and young people, aged 0-25, who have additional learning needs. Parents whose children have special educational needs can appeal against decisions made by Welsh Local Authorities (LAs) about their children's education. More information about the tribunal can be found on the Welsh Government website here.

For more information please look at the following organisations:

  • The National Council for Education and Training in Wales
  • SEN Tribunal in Wales
  • Afasic Wales. Contact Afasic head office for more information
  • RHAG – Campaigns for Welsh Medium Education (Parents for Welsh Medium Education)
  • RNID Cymru
  • SNAP Cymru - a provider of independent parental support services in Wales
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