Press release /Datganiad i’r wasg

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Thursday December 1st 2016


Chair of the Cross Party Autism Group, Mark Isherwood AM, has challenged the Welsh Government this week over its proposed new system for meeting the Additional Learning Needs of children and young people in Wales. 

Replacing the existing Statement of Special Educational Needs with an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is central to the Welsh Government proposals.

Questioning the Minister for Lifelong Learning in the Assembly Chamber this week, Mr Isherwood, raised concerns about the proposed changes. 

He said:  

“Claiming that it will ‘transform the education support for children and young people’ with autistic spectrum conditions, the ‘Refreshed Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan’, published today, then only really refers to the Bill you’ve already referred to, the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill.

“How will you provide assurance to parents such as myself, who had to fight to get a Statement for their children because it was being used as a rationing process, a certificate of entitlement, recognising, for example, that short-term exclusions of children who didn’t get Statemented, who went into School Action and School Action Plus categories, doubled, when they reduced for children in the general population and statemented children? Is it not a real concern that the Individual Development Plans proposed will enable providers to ration provision in the way, in practice, parents have seen for too long in Wales and beyond?”

The Minister replied; “I fully accept that, for too long, parents have had to struggle and have been through very difficult and emotional times struggling to get the educational provision that they require for their children, and a part of that is not simply statementing but diagnosis as well. There has been a wide number of issues there that refer to the journey of the child, in this instance through Health and Social Services, sometimes educational institutions and organisations and structures. I accept that there have been significant difficulties and sometimes failures there in that system. The introduction of the Individual Development Plan, of course, is a way of moving away from that. It does deliver, we hope and we anticipate, and this will be a matter for Members to test, of course, during the Parliamentary process.” 

Mr Isherwood added: “ A Statement of Special Educational Needs is a legal document which sets out a child’s special educational needs and the additional help that will be given to meet those needs. The Law is not in need of watering down, it is in need of being obeyed.”