A DISCUSSION on how the future provision of Additional Learning Needs (ALN) will look in Powys will get underway this week.

At their meeting on Tuesday, June 23, Powys Council Council’s cabinet approved the undertaking of a four week “engagement process” with families, schools, governors and charities.

ALN also known as Special Educational Needs (SEN) is one of four ‘workstreams’ that have been established as part of the education shake up in Powys.

The county’s provision of ALN was criticised in last year’s Estyn inspection report.

Education portfolio holder Councillor Phyl Davies, told the cabinet: “The purpose is to carry out an engagement exercise to develop a new vision and come up with areas for transformation of SEN/ALN in Powys.”

“It is clear that the there is inequality of access to SEN/ALN across the county.”

The learning and skills scrutiny committee, had looked at the issue at a meeting earlier this month.

Learning and skills committee chairman Councillor Peter Roberts (Llandrindod South – Liberal Democrat) said: “Broadly we are pleased to see this go out at this point, we would perhaps be more critical if it was a formal consultation stage.”

Cllr Roberts added that an area of particular concern is the 19 to 25 years old age range, as well as how the need for higher qualification could effect experienced staff.

ALN education consultant, Caroline Rees, added: “One of the things that Estyn picked up last year is that we did not have a clear vision for SEN/ALN

“This paper has our ideas in it, but to turn this vision into a strategy it’s absolutely essential that we engage with partners, families, schools,  governing bodies, young people.

“What we hope to do over the next four weeks, is really to get the views of everybody out there.

“Once we have all this feedback we will be able to turn it more concrete  ideas which will come back to cabinet around October.”

The document outlines several points for discussion:

- Most pupils with SEN/ALN will be taught in their local mainstream school.

- All pupils with SEN/ALN will be placed in a provision that meets their needs, as near to home as is practicably possible, with the appropriate specialist teaching, support and facilities that enables every learner to meet their potential.

- There will be a range of specialist provision, including special schools, pupil referral units, specialist centres, satellite centres and early assessment provision.

- Both English and Welsh medium provision.

- Special schools will cater for those pupils who have the most complex needs.