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More ALN pupils could be sent to local mainstream schools

Created on 14/05/2019 @ 12:12
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More pupils with additional learning needs (ALN) will be expected to be educated at mainstream schools rather than at special needs schools in the county.

The changes will be driven by transport costs as well as new legislation.

In Wales, Special Education Needs (SEN) legislation will be superseded by the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018.

The issue has been discussed at the Learning and Skills Scrutiny Committee of Powys County Council.

There are three special needs schools at Ysgol Cedewain in Newtown and Brynllywarch Hall School in Kerry, with Ysgol Cedewain due to be rebuilt.

Cllr David Jones said: “There is a move that children be educated near their home. Pupils from Llanfyllin, instead of being bussed up to Newtown each day, they can receive their education in Llanfyllin and the same for pupils in Machynlleth and so on.

“Are we building a new school in Cedewain, or moving towards children being educated in their own community?”

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander, replied: “The answer is a bit of both. We will replace Cedewain but not like for like.

“We would like to see a special school become enablers for mainstream schooling. There are quite lot of children (at Cedewain) that could be in mainstream schooling. Physically the building will not be expected to accommodate so many children.

“But the service will be catering for those who will stay under its roof and act as an outreach for schools without special needs provision or provide special needs through the Welsh language.”

Cllr Alexander continued: “We are going to re-build the school because the building is not fit for purpose

“The children that will continue to be educated there, will be the ones with the most difficult to meet needs.

“If the needs of some of the children going there, can be met in mainstream schools with support, that is what should be happening. It’s simply a huge cost to transport them.”

Cllr Alexander went on to add that she found it difficult to understand why primary schools were able to deal with ALN, while secondary schools struggled.

“It’s strange that their needs can be met at 10-years-old but not at 12,” said Cllr Alexander.

She said that work in schools across Powys to allow wheelchair access was close to completion.

And that this would allow more pupils back into mainstream schools.

Cllr Alexander added that “careful modelling” to deal with developments in teaching children with ALN, would have to be considered when designing the new Ysgol Cedewain.

Powys, as well as all other Welsh county councils, will have to change the way they provide ALN support, which will now be applicable from birth to the age of 25.

Earlier intervention will be key with education officers working with health and social care professionals to provide the service.

By Elgan Hearn, Local democracy reporter

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