This information applies to children and young people in Wales only. For England see our page on SEN and the law – England
All children with Down’s syndrome will take longer to learn things than other children and will need extra help to do so. They come under the category of children who have ‘special educational needs’ (SEN). In Wales the term ‘additional learning needs’ (ALN) is increasingly used, though the law still refers to SEN.
The assessment and provision for children with SEN / ALN is governed by a legal framework. This system can seem complex at first. These pages will help you take the right steps to ensure that your child with Down’s syndrome gets the help they need.
All schools and nurseries will be able to provide some extra help from their own budget. The amount that is delegated directly to schools varies between different local authorities. Children with significant or complex needs including most children with Down’s syndrome are likely to require a statutory assessment of their needs co-ordinated by the local authority, leading to a statement of special educational needs.
For detailed information on how to ensure your child gets the right support, go to our pages on statements
A changing system – but not yet
Historically Wales has always been linked with England as far as education law goes. This is now changing and there is new legislation affecting England only. There has been a longstanding recognition that the system needs reform in Wales too and the DSA has been part of a network of charities working with the Welsh Government on reforms to the additional needs framework over a number of years.
Current proposals involve moving to a more person-centred system that will cover the age range 0-25. Statements will be replaced by Individual Development Plans, which will apply to a wider range of children.
A draft Bill has been issued for consultation by the Welsh Government, but there is not likely to be substantive legislation before the Welsh Assembly before summer 2016 and it will take another year or two before any new law is fully in force. A new code of practice will be issued for consultation in autumn 2015.
Some local authorities in Wales have already been trialling new ways of working. However it is important to be aware that the law has not changed and your local authority must not refuse an assessment or a statement on the pretext that the law may be changing in the future.
Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales – for a detailed description of the current system
Consultation on the draft Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill – ends 18th December 2015