A person has additional learning needs (ALN) 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.

Changes to the system

The system for supporting children and young people who have special educational needs has now started to change.

Overview of the changes

  • Changes are taking place over three years
  • From September 2021,the term ‘additional learning needs’ (ALN) replaced the term ‘special educational needs’ (SEN), as well as the term ‘learning difficulties and disabilities’ (LDD)
  • An emphasis on high aspirations and improved outcomes for all children and young people who have ALN.
  • The ALN system will cover children and young people aged 0-25 who have needs that require additional learning provision

These guides explain how and when children, who were not included in the arrangements during the first year of implementation, will move to the ALN system:

For parents and families: 

Welsh Government: Implementing the additional learning needs system between September 2021 and August 2024: a guide for parents and families (external link)

For children and young people:

Welsh Government: Moving to the additional learning needs system: information for children (external link)

Welsh Government: Information about when young people will move onto the additional learning (ALN) system (external link)

This guide supports parents and families to further understand their rights under the ALN system:

Welsh Government: A guide for parents about rights under the additional learning needs (ALN) system (external link)

Further information about ALN is available at:

Welsh Government: Additional learning needs (external link)

Where ‘we’ or ‘us’ is used on this page it refers to Wrexham County Borough Council in the role of local authority.

Determining ALN at different stages

Early Years

If it is determined that a child who is not yet of compulsory school age has ALN, we (as the local authority) are responsible for securing additional learning provision (ALP) and writing their Individual Development Plan (IDP). We have an Early Years Additional Learning Needs Lead Officer who can be contacted for advice and support.

School age pupils

For children who are of compulsory school age, the class teacher or Additional Learning Needs Coordinator is the first point of contact. They will be able to listen to your concerns, and if requested, begin to consider if your child has ALN.

This decision will be made within 35 school days, unless the school requires further specialist assessment through us or health services. Where further specialist assessment is needed a further 12 weeks may be required.

Further education institutions (FEI)

Young people accessing FEI who have an ALN will have their needs identified through the FEI provider in the first instance. In a small amount of highly complex cases, the FEI may refer a young person (with their consent) to us for further advice and support. 

An explanation of terms relating to ALN

Universal provision

For the majority of children and young people, their needs can be met through high quality teaching and learning. All education settings should put in place differentiated teaching or other targeted support to help pupils make progress, where appropriate. 

Universal provision is routinely available to all children and young people. It may be provided at a whole class, small group or individual level. It is monitored and tracked in line with school procedures and could be a short or longer term provision.

Additional learning provision (ALP)

A small number of children and young people will have ALN, which requires ALP. ALP is additional to or different from educational or training provision, which is generally available for all. 

If a child or young person does not appear to be making progress, then ALP may be required. This will involve the needs of the pupil being identified in a person-centred way and could lead to enhanced and alternative provision being provided to support the pupil in making progress. Children and young people who access ALP are classed as having ALN and will require an IDP.

Individual Development Plans (IDP)

IDPs replace statements of SEN and in some cases Individual Education Plans. These plans will be person-centred and may include multi-agencies, ensuring that the child or young person is at the centre of planning their provision.

The purpose of IDPs

Children and young people learn in different ways and their needs may change over time. An IDP provides an ongoing process of: 

  • identifying needs and providing different support as necessary
  • sharing information
  • planning, taking action and reviewing progress

Depending on your child’s individual progress the support they receive could be increased, reduced or changed over time. This means that earlier decisions and actions are revisited, refined and revised to help achieve a growing understanding of your child. It also supports them in making progress and helps them to realise their hopes and aspirations.

Phasing in IDPs

IDPs will be phased in, following the Welsh Government timetable, as existing statements and Individual Education Plans are reviewed. Plans will be reviewed at least annually and will be created with the child or young person and their parents/carers or advocate. They can also be reviewed should information or needs change at the request of the child, young person or parent/carer.
These IDPs are designed to outline the ALN of a child or young person, their aspirations and targets to achieve these. Any child or young person who receives ALP requires an IDP

Decisions you can ask to be reconsidered

Parents and young people can request to have certain decisions they disagree with reconsidered:

  1. to reconsider whether a child has ALN or not
  2. to reconsider a school IDP with a view to revising it
  3. to decide whether we should take over responsibility for maintaining an IDP
  4. to reconsider a school’s decision to cease to maintain an IDP

Responsibilities for maintaining an IDP

The majority of IDPs will be written and maintained by schools. However, in some more complex cases schools may request that we consider the needs of the child or young person. If these needs are found to be complex and require specialist input, we may write and then either direct the school to maintain the plan or maintain it themselves.

Children who are not of compulsory school age and do not attend a local authority-maintained school, who have ALN and require an IDP will have this written and maintained by us (through our Early Years Additional Learning Needs Lead Officer). 

In cases of post-16 ALN, the post-16 provider will write and maintain the IDP in the majority of cases, referring to us only in cases of complex or multiple ALN. This would only happen when it would not be reasonable for the post-16 provider to secure the provision. 

We are responsible for writing and maintaining IDPs for those home-educated pupils, looked after children (LAC), and dual-registered pupils who are identified as having ALN.

Person-centred approaches

Person-centred approaches are central to the Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal Act and Additional Learning Needs Code for Wales. It puts the child or young person at the centre of identifying their needs, planning their provision and reviewing this.

The overarching ethos to person-centred practice means making sure that children and young people are involved in:

  • identifying what is important to and for them
  • planning their provision and outlining their hopes and aspirations
  • explaining how they wish to realise their hopes and aspirations

Reviews of IDPs should take place in a person-centred way and your child’s school can provide information or answer any questions you may have regarding this.

What to do if you’re not happy with a decision

Ask for a reconsideration

If you are not happy with the decision of a school regarding the consideration of ALN, you can ask for us to reconsider this decision. 

Before contacting us we would recommend that you discuss your concerns with your child’s school. After discussion, if you remain dissatisfied, you can contact us to request a reconsideration by emailing ALN@wrexham.gov.uk

The reconsideration period can take up to seven weeks. During a reconsideration we will review the information the school used to make their decision. We will then determine whether we agree or disagree with the school decision. If we disagree, we could direct the school to either write and maintain an IDP for the child or young person, or to amend the current version.

Appeal to the Educational Tribunal for Wales

If you are not happy with a decision we have made about ALN, you have the right to appeal to the Educational Tribunal for Wales.

Any appeals must be made by the first working day within eight weeks of our decision. If the dispute resolution services noted below are used, the time scale for appeal is extended by a further eight weeks.

Dispute resolution

If you want independent advice, guidance and support you can contact the Additional Learning Needs Information and Support Service, which is provided by SNAP Cymru.

A Disagreement Resolution Service is also provided by SNAP Cymru. You can get information from your designated coordinator or by contacting SNAP Cymru directly at DRS@snapcymru.org

General questions about ALN

What are ALN?

This means that a child or young person either:

  • has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children or young people of the same age
  • has a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of educational facilities normally provided for children or young people of the same age in schools
  • is under compulsory school age and falls within the categories above or would do so if ALP was not made for them

What should I do if I think my child has ALN?

If you think your child has ALN contact your child's school and speak to either the class teacher, the Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo) or the head teacher. They will receive your concerns sympathetically and discuss the issues you raise.

You can ask how the school supports children and young people with ALN and this information will also be available in the school's SEN or ALN policy. If you feel the school's

SEN or ALN policy is not effective for your child you can raise these concerns with your child’s head teacher.

If my child has ALN does this mean that they require a statement or IDP?

Only a small percentage of children and young people with ALN require an IDP.

The ALN Code for Wales identifies a staged approach to meeting the needs of children and young people with ALN. Explaining how we meet your child’s needs is known as the graduated response.

Schools are required to adopt a graduated response to ALN that include a range of strategies and varying levels of intervention. 

As part of the graduated response to meeting the needs of children and young people with ALN, only those accessing ALN provision are classed as having ALN and requiring an IDP.

Responsibilities of the school

As a parent you should be informed by the school if your child has ALN and how these needs are being met. Schools are responsible for the universal and targeted universal provision and also the ALN provision in many cases. The school has a responsibility to inform and involve parents/carers in planning for and meeting their child's ALN.

Creating an IDP

If your child is identified as having ALN, a person-centred meeting will be held to discuss their needs and an IDP will be created. This will detail targets to achieve and how they will be achieved. 

As a parent you will have a copy of the IDP and should contribute to it. Your child's progress should be monitored and the IDP reviewed on a regular basis, most schools review on an annual basis formally, but often more regularly. You will always be asked for your views and invited to take part in the reviews.

Asking us to consider your child’s ALN (if needed)

If the school feel that your child's needs cannot be met by their own resources and the resources available to them from the support services, they will talk to you about requesting that we consider your child’s ALN

When we consider a child’s ALN, we may work with other agencies and then work with the school to re-develop the IDP based on new learning found through this process. 

Maintaining an IDP

The majority of IDPs are maintained by schools. A small number of pupils, however, may have highly complex and significant ALN. In these cases, we may be asked to consider maintaining the IDP for that child or young person. 

If my child has ALN will they need to attend a special school?

Only a small percentage of children with ALN will need to attend a special school. In many cases children can continue in mainstream schools where they will receive the extra support they need to meet their additional learning needs.

What is an annual review?

Your child's IDP will be reviewed at least annually. The purpose of the review is to look at the progress made over the previous twelve months in relation to the objectives on the IDP.

These reviews will be collected by the school and other services may be invited to attend as appropriate (health services or our own local authority services for example). 

Once the annual review report is complete, the appropriateness of the IDP will be considered in light of your child’s achievements. A decision to amend, maintain or discontinue the IDP will be made.

Contact our Education Inclusion Service

Email: ALN@wrexham.gov.uk 

Alternatively, write to:
Education Inclusion Service  Wrexham County Borough Council
Crown Buildings 
Chester Street
LL13 8BG