Calls have been made for an "urgent review" into support for children with additional learning needs in Powys.

The call comes after a large number of parents of children with additional learning needs (ALN) told the County Times of the issues they are facing trying to get support for their children.

Parents have raised concerns about long wait times for diagnosis – which can last years, a lack of professional knowledge in some Powys schools, long waits in processing time by the council and unexplained refusals for extra help have been made without reasons given.

Montgomeryshire MS, Russell George is calling on the Welsh Government to take an urgent review of ALN reforms: “I have regularly met with parents who have contacted me in desperation as their child is not having the support they need.

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“The impact on families is huge, some parents have had to give up work, and the emotional strain on the wider family is also significant.

“The number of children and young people receiving Additional Learning Needs support has decreased since the introduction of the Welsh Government reforms in 2022.

"There continues to be delays and challenges in the rollout of ALN reforms which are causing a postcode lottery in accessing ALN support for learners across Powys and Wales."

He added: “The process needs to be much quicker and easier to support children who have these needs.

"Parents are fighting for the support for their children and they shouldn’t have to. The cuts in Powys’ budget have impacted on ALN support and the Welsh Government’s reform of ALN within education has made the situation worse sadly.”


Plaid Cymru Councillor Elwyn Vaughan joined Mr George in criticising the current system and said: "Lack of support, bureaucratic processes, lack of clarity and long waits in processing requests are all far too common complaints I hear.

“As governor of a local school I'm often approached by families who have had a stressful situation regarding ALN provision.

"On the other hand I'm also well aware of the huge challenges many of our schools face in the provision of ALN support, especially at a time of huge financial cuts especially at our secondary schools.

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“There needs to a review of the situation taking a holistic approach to the broad range of potential support measures including the potential relationship with specialist facilities such as Cedewain, Brynllywarch and the PRU centres - one of which is set to be closed in the coming year.

“The danger is at a time of continued austerity, at a time when the education budget is under huge pressure, that it's those that need the most support and assistance are the ones that lose out again.”

A spokesperson for Powys County Council said: “We place a high priority on improving the outcomes and raising aspirations of our children and young people with special educational needs (SEN)/ additional learning needs (ALN).

“Like all local authorities in Wales we are working to meet the requirements of the Welsh Government’s new legislation, the Additional Learning Needs (Wales) Act (the Act), by the September 2025 deadline.

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“The new ALN system places a duty on all Local Authorities and Schools to ensure the views, wishes and feelings of the child and the child’s parent, or the young person, are at the heart of the decision-making process. We are providing a programme of professional development to deliver the new ALN system.”

A spokesperson for Powys Teaching Health Board said: “We always aim to provide the very best care and treatment.

“Work is currently under way by partner agencies in Powys to implement the new additional learning needs system for Wales which aims to transform the outcomes and experience of children and young people aged 0-25 who have additional learning needs, and their families.

“At a meeting of Powys Teaching Health Board on 20 March 2024 we discussed our priorities and plans for the year ahead. Improvements to the neurodevelopmental assessment pathway, and a multi-agency strategy for Additional Learning Needs in Powys have been identified as priority actions for 2024/25.”