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Getting additional support: Wales

Photo: A child has SEN if they need extra or specialised support to access their education

What does special educational needs (SEN) mean?

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability which means they need (or are likely to need) special educational provision to be made for them.

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if they:

  • have a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or
  • have a disability which prevents them from using, or makes it harder them to use, facilities provided for others of the same age in a mainstream setting.

In other words, if a child has SEN it means that they need extra or specialised support to access their education.

For example, a deaf child may need speech and language therapy or a radio aid to hear the teacher. You can find more information in the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales.

Reforms

What are additional learning needs (ALN)?

The Welsh Government are bringing in a new system for supporting children and young people with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) - replacing SEN. It is being implemented with a phased approach from 1st September 2021 and in time, all current support plans (including Statements, IEPs and LSPs) will be replaced by Individual Development Plans (IDPs).

The new system aims to support children and young people aged 0 to 25 with additional learning needs. IDPs will look more widely at a child’s needs. Some local authorities (LAs) have already been using IDPs, but existing statements are still legal documents which set out your child’s support needs.

Find out more about the changes in Wales on our page Additional learning needs (ALN) in Wales. For more information on the new system in Wales see our guide for parents on Additional Learning Needs (ALN) and Individual Development Plans (IDPs) (Wales).

You can also find the Written Statement: Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal Act 2018 Implementation on the Welsh Government website.