SCHOOLS in Powys could be clubbing together to share one special education needs expert to work across an area.

This approach would be better than having several teachers with some training teaching pupils with additional learning needs (ALN) in each school.

The proposal of cluster working was talked about at a meeting of Powys County Council’s (PCC) learning and skills scrutiny committee.

There members were updated by staff from the education department on how preparations to ensure PCC is ready for the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and Education Tribunal Act 2018, are shaping up.

The legislation comes into force next year and fully take over from SEN (Special Educational Needs) legislation by 2023.

ALN support will now be applicable from birth to the age of 25.

Earlier intervention will be key with education staff working in tandem with health and social workers to provide the service.

Also greater emphasis will be put on  teaching ALN children in mainstream schools.

Having one ALN specialist working across a cluster of several schools is an option PCC is considering.

Portfolio holder, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander, said: “Is it more useful to schools to have a highly trained individual in a cluster rather than a lot of people who are classroom teachers?

“And one of the problems is that if you have a SENCO (Special Educational needs Coordinator) in every school, is it realistic to keep all of them up to date with the training and all of the latest development?”

Cllr Alexander added that to be able to discuss on a level playing with a counterpart from the health service the ALENCO (Additional Learning Needs Coordinator) would need to be highly trained which favoured a cluster approach.

ALN senior manager Imtiaz Bhatti, added: “There are two or three clusters of schools who have identified that they would like to trial a cluster SENCO/ALENCO.

“Distance between schools could be a factor but there are some pilots in the pipeline.”

Cllr Alexander added that there were issues that needed to be ironed out such as salary.

Would the ALENCO for a cluster take all ALN payments from the schools they worked at, or would they be part of the education department?

“We would need to look at the funding envelope and talk to Welsh Government and make a proposal we think is sensible,” added Cllr Alexander.