ALN Transformation

ALN and Education Tribunal Act 2018

The approach to supporting children and young people who have difficulties with learning is changing. The Welsh Government has passed new legislation, called the Additional Learning Needs (Wales) Act (the Act), which is supported by the Additional Learning Needs Code (Code). The Act and Code will replace the current legislation and guidance about special educational needs. The Welsh Government is bringing in a more flexible and responsive system of meeting the needs of children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities and are striving to deliver a fully inclusive education system for the learners of Wales.

The new system will ensure:

  • needs are identified early, addressed quickly and all learners are supported to reach their potential
  • that professionals are skilled and confident in identifying needs and deploying strategies to help learners overcome their barriers to learning.
  • that the learner is at the centre of everything we do and that they and their parents and carers are equal partners in their learning (Person Centred Approach)

From 1st September 2021, the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) system set out in the Act will be fully implemented over the school years 2021/22, 2022/23 and 2023/24.

Local Authorities, Schools and Pupil Referral Units (‘PRU’s’) will move children who fall into mandated years, from the existing Special Educational Needs (‘SEN’) system to the ALN system during a three-year implementation period as follows:

  • Spring and Summer terms, school year 2021/22: Nursery 1, Nursery 2, Year1, Year 3, Year 5, Year 7, Year 10
  • School year 2022-23: Nursery 1, Nursery 2, Year 1, Year 5, Year 9 and Year 10.
  • School year 2023-24: Year 4 and Year 8 and any other pupils with SEN on 1
  • January 2022 who did not move to the ALN system during years one and two of implementation.

Here are some of the key messages about the changes and what they may mean for you and your child.

The current graduated system of Early Years/School Action, Early Years/School Action Plus and Statements is being replaced over the course of the next 3 years. All children and young people with an identified ALN that requires an Additional Learning Provision (ALP) within the meaning of the Act, will have an Individual Development Plan (IDP).

The IDP will replace all other individual plans. IDPs for children under compulsory school age, who require them, the early years, will be maintained by local authorities.

  • IDPs will be maintained by the school, but where it is considered unreasonable for the school to do so, the Local Authority may maintain them.
  • The Act expects that all partners such as Education, Health and Social Care will work in collaboration to support children and young people with ALN.
  • There will be more opportunity for children, young people, parents and carers to contribute to the creation and maintenance of IDPs through Person-Centred Planning.

It is expected that working together more closely should help to avoid disagreements.

  • All reasonable steps will be taken to ensure additional learning provision will be provided in Welsh, if required

Additional Information

The approach to implementation during the school year 2021/22 will be sequential,with the ALN system commencing for specific groups of children on 1 September 2021 and on 1 January 2022. During implementation, the ALN system will operate in parallel to the SEN system, which will gradually be phased out during the implementation period.

From 1st January 2022, the ALN system will commence for children who attend maintained schools (including PRU’s) in Nursery Years 1 and 2 (N1 and N2) and Year 1, Year 3, Year 5, Year 7 and Year 10 who have special educational provision via early years action / early years action plus or school action / school action plus.

Schools and PRUs will make a decision about whether children who fall into any of these mandated years have ALN within the meaning of the Act. Having decided whether or not a child has ALN within the meaning of the Act, the school or PRU will issue an ‘IDP notice’ or a ‘no IDP notice’. It is the IDP notice, or the no IDP notice, that moves a child from the SEN system to the ALN system.

At any point during the the three year implementation, from 1 January 2022, you or your child can ask to move to the ALN system earlier than the Local Authoirty, school or PRU had planned. This can be done by asking for an IDP notice to be issued.

Further information on the changes can be found at

Definitions of ALN

"Additional learning needs" or "ALN"

  • A person has additional learning needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability (whether the learning difficulty or disability arises from a medical condition or otherwise) which calls for additional learning provision
  • A child of compulsory school age or person over that age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she
    • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
    • has a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities for education or training of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream maintained schools or mainstream institutions in the further education sector
  • A child under compulsory school age has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she is, or would be if no additional learning provision were made, likely to be within subsection (2) when of compulsory school age

"Additional learning provision" or "ALP"

  • "Additional learning provision" for a person aged three or over means educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age in
    • mainstream maintained schools in Wales
    • mainstream institutions in the further education sector in Wales, or
    • places in Wales at which nursery education is provided
  • "Additional learning provision" for a child aged under three means educational provision of any kind
  • In subsection (1), "nursery education" means education suitable for a child who has attained the age of three but is under compulsory school age

When making the decision if the young person requires an IDP the school will consider if the pupil has ALN that requires ALP. ALP can take many forms; The support may be provided in small groups, individual or bespoke provision. This is usually provided via school’s resources but can include support and advice/service from the Local Authority ALN and Inclusion service.

ALP for those aged under three can take many forms; for instance, group work or individual support - where the pupil attends educational provision of any kind. This might include, for example specialist health, physical, communication or sensory support within their education setting.

The majority of children with Additional Learning Needs are educated within mainstream early years settings / schools / colleges through universal provision and services.  Each school has a provision map which sets out their graduated response for meeting pupil needs with the support and interventions they have developed as a whole school approach to meet the needs of the students on their roll. All maintained mainstream schools in Torfaen have an allocated ALN budget with which to plan support and provision for pupils attending their school.

The Local Authority’s Central ALN and Inclusion Services work in collaboration with the young person /parents/carers /schools and other agencies using a person centred approach. We provide advice, guidance and support for pupils who have or may have Additional Learning Needs (ALN).

Types of Need

Communication and interaction

Children and young people with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) have difficulty in communicating with others. This may be because they have difficulty saying what they want to, understanding what is being said to them or they do not understand or use social rules of communication. The profile for every child with SLCN is different and their needs may change over time. They may have difficulty with one, some or all of the different aspects of speech, language or social communication at different times of their lives.

Children and young people with ASD, including Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, are likely to have particular difficulties with social interaction. They may also experience difficulties with language, communication and imagination, which can impact on how they relate to others.

Cognition and learning

Support for learning difficulties may be required when children and young people learn at a slower pace than their peers, even with appropriate differentiation*. Learning difficulties cover a wide range of needs, including Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), where children are likely to need support in all areas of the curriculum and associated difficulties with mobility and communication, through to Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD), where children are likely to have severe and complex learning difficulties as well as a physical disability or sensory impairment.

Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), affect one or more specific aspects of learning. This encompasses a range of conditions such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia.

*Not all children develop at the same rate. Some find learning easy and develop quicker; whilst others struggle with certain tasks or skills and develop at a slower rate. Therefore, each child is set work that is directed at his or her own level or ability. This is called ‘Differentiated’ Learning.

Social, emotional and mental health difficulties

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways. These may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour. These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained. Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.

Sensory and / or physical needs

Some children and young people require additional educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided. These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. Many children and young people with Vision Impairment (VI), Hearing Impairment (HI) or a Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or habilitation support*. Children and young people with an MSI have a combination of vision and hearing difficulties.

* Some children and young people with a Physical Disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.

Last Modified: 08/02/2022
For more information contact:

Inclusion Service

Tel: 01495 766929 or 01495 766968

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