SCHOOLS will need to help each other out and share staff who are qualified to deal with children who have ALN (Additional Learning Needs).

This is due in part to a £511,000 cost reduction that Powys’ Education Service is planning for the next financial year, 2020/21.

Part of that saving will come from “removing” the LIST (Learning and Inclusion Support) Team which saves £226,000.

A report said that all LIST officers had left their roles by December 31, 2019.

These officers worked with children who have additional needs that can’t always be met in the classroom.

The critical Estyn report, published in September 2019 had highlighted SEN/ALN as an area of concern:

This issue was discussed at Powys County Council’s (PCC) learning and skills scrutiny committee.

Former headteacher and independent member of the committee Margaret Evitts said: “The LIST team were very much valued by schools.

“What is happening in schools to deal with the work that the LIST team did?”

Interim chief education officer, Lynette Lovell, said: “We have reviewed the provision internally.

“Identified where we have gaps and have then reviewed what expertise we have.”

Ms Lovell said the review had been done during the autumn term and had found more people qualified in this area than expected.

She added that the service had invested in THRIVE training, which is a teaching theory in this field of work and said that some schools were doing a good job using this technique.

Ms Lovell continued:  “We now have a lot of people who are trained in that.

“What we need to do is look at more effective school to school working and recognise where we have strengths on the ground.

“There are people out there who have the qualifications and training we need to ensure it is shared.

“We have to use the people we have but we needed to do the review to see who those people are and their skills and qualifications.

She added proposals on the future of ALN in Powys schools would be made available shortly.

“I assure you improving this is at the top of the agenda,” added Ms Lovell.

Mrs Evitts responded: “It’s very reassuring but are schools aware of this?

“Are they feeling comfortable?

“It would have been  more comfortable if the LIST team had stayed during the review.”

Ms Lovell answered that PCC’s ALN senior manager has been to headteacher meetings.

Ms Lovelll said: “We are making sure that our communication with schools is better and we will endeavour to make sure that continues.”

Ms Lovell said that they were looking for grant funding to help resource ALN and the committee will receive another update in the near future.

  • The Welsh Government’s Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and Education Tribunal Act 2018 was given Royal Assent in January 2018
  • The legislation comes into force in September and fully take over from SEN (Special Educational Needs) legislation by 2023
  • ALN support will now be from birth to the age of 25
  • Earlier intervention will be key with education staff working with health and social workers to provide the service