As the local education authority, Bridgend Council will be responsible for implementing the Additional Learning Needs Act 2018 (more information here) – a law passed by the Senedd earlier this year aimed at improving the rights, planning and services for learners with special needs (ALN).
A Scrutiny Committee discussed the possible implications last September and offered recommendations. Later this morning, BCBC’s Cabinet will discuss their response to points made by the committee (pdf).
Committee Recommendation: Any new funding from the Welsh Government should be ring-fenced to meet the needs of ALN pupils.
It’s not clear yet how much funding BCBC will receive for ALN, but as soon as they know they will begin discussions with “stakeholders” to ensure the needs of pupils with ALN are met. There’s no outright commitment to ring-fencing funding as of this moment.
Committee Recommendations: BCBC should allocate specific funding for post-16 ALN education and should ensure at least 80% of the budget allocated for ALN pupils is given to schools.
The Act will extend BCBC’s responsibilities to ALN learners aged up to 25 years old. The Welsh Government has published on funding post-16 ALN learners at specialist colleges. There’s no commitment to specific funding, but the delegated budget to schools is already above 80%.
Committee Recommendation: Educational psychologists should be given a “significant role” in delivery and support of ALN policy.
BCBC say educational psychologists are already fully involved in work to prepare the council to implement the Act.
Committee Recommendation: Apprenticeships should be considered to allow ALN learners to enter employment.
BCBC officials are working with Bridgend College to ensure there are enough opportunities for ALN learners, including apprenticeships and supported internships.
Committee Recommendation: “Suitable support and resources” need to be provided to staff working in ALN and teachers to ensure they can deal with the additional responsibilities of the Act.
Training has been given to ALN workers and school staff in collaboration with other councils.
Committee Recommendation: BCBC should consider how home-to-school transport arrangements will be affected by the Act.
BCBC say it’s not known if the Act will affect laws already passed in relation to home-school transport (but they have identified significant savings on special needs pupil transport in the 2018-19 budget – this wasn’t mentioned in the report).
Committee Recommendation: BCBC commission an independent analysis to determine the costs of supporting adults who haven’t received sufficient education as children.
BCBC are unaware of any such work already being undertaken, they will see if any such work has already been carried out at a regional level.