Learning for all? Changes to education in Wales for deafblind children and young people

This Autumn the Welsh Government are consulting on a draft piece of legislation to reform the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system in Wales. They’re calling it the Additional Learning Needs system. The hope is that this new system will be more inclusive and enabling than the SEN framework. Support Sense Cymru by taking our joint action with NDCS Cymru to put forward your views on the changes.

This new ALN framework will see all children and young people aged 0-25 receive the same access to support to enable them to learn. This is in contrast to the current system that excludes children of pre-school age and the separate system for 16-21 year olds, which is complex and confusing, not to mention anxiety-provoking for young people and parents who have to wait – often far too long – to hear decisions about funding and placements.

Another big change is the end of the Statement of SEN. This is the legal document that so many parents fight for to give their child the legal right to the learning support they need. Instead of Statements, the government are proposing Individual Development Plans (IDPs). All IDPs will be statutory documents – this means that every child with ALN will have a legal right to the support listed in their IDP.

But there are big steps Sense Cymru wants to see taken forward in legislation that aren’t strong enough in the current draft bill. We want to make sure that the IDP takes an holistic view of the child’s ALN and practitioners from education, health and social care work together effectively.

For that reason we need to hear from you about the aspects of your learning, or your child’s learning, that really make a difference. We also need to hear about some of the challenges you face so that we can start to build a better system that overcomes these.

This week I’ve been hearing from the young people who are part of the Being Me! project in South East Wales. They told me about the important things they learn at college that enables them to be independent, to make choices about their lives and to work towards the careers they want in the future.

They also told me about the importance of specialist support to enable them to access their learning – this ranged from specialist equipment to support their reading, to one-to-one support from Learning Support Assistants, to friendly student supporters dotted around college who help you to find your way around.

At Sense Cymru we want to make sure that the new ALN system works for deafblind children, young people and their families. We want to hear about what matters to you so we can put your case across to decision makers. The louder our voice, the greater our chances of getting this system right.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with NDCS (National Deaf Children’s Society) Cymru to create a forum where you can put forward your own views to the Welsh Government. We’ve written a template letter to the government highlighting Sense Cymru and NDCS Cymru’s main concerns but you can adapt this to include personal stories if you want. It won’t take you more than 10 minutes and you will have made a lasting impression. Please take this action now to support all deafblind children and young people in Wales get the learning opportunities they deserve.

Catrin Edwards

Author: Catrin Edwards

Swyddog Polisi ac Ymgyrchoedd | Policy and Campaigns Officer (Wales) for Sense Public Policy

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