The Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales states that Local Authorities (LA) may operate moderating groups to support the LA in making consistent and transparent decisions. These groups can include Headteachers, Additional Learning Needs Coordinators (ALNCOs), Governors and Educational Psychologists as well as representatives from Health and Social Services.
In Blaenau Gwent Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Panels have been established to ensure that decisions regarding ALN are taken in accordance with these principles. There is a panel for pupils aged 3 to 11, and a panel for pupils aged between 11 and 16.
The ALN Panels operate in accordance with the SEN Code of Practice for Wales and Blaenau Gwent retains its responsibilities for formal decisions through the Chair of the Panel, who is the designated officer of the Local Authority.
Blaenau Gwent is committed to inclusive education and wherever possible pupils will be placed and supported within their mainstream catchment school.
Functions of the ALN Panel
In relation to individual pupils, the ALN Panel considers the following:
- additional support for 3 year-old pupils going into Nursery who are not on a school roll
- Resource Base placement of pupils on school roll at School Action Plus
- additional support or placement of pupils moving into the Local Authority from other Local Authorities
- requests to carry out a statutory assessment
- whether or not to issue a statement or a note in lieu
- when a statement is agreed, the level of additional support and the type of educational setting appropriate
- changes to the level of additional support or placement following an Annual Review
- the placement of pupils with regards to managed moves between schools
- access to Canolfan Y Afon Pupil Referral Unit provisions.
The panel also has a monitoring role including
- ensuring that all statutory assessment requests are considered within the prescribed timescales of the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales and that decisions are made in line with Blaenau Gwent’s criteria for assessment.
- ensuring that all decisions taken regarding SEN provision and the placement of pupils in a Resource Base or specialist placements are consistent.
- providing an oversight of the distribution of resource allocation within the LA.
- providing an open forum for discussion regarding SEN provision in partnership with colleagues from other disciplines.
- moderating the quality of ALN practices - e.g. the quality of recording and reporting across the LA
- identification of good practice
- monitoring the quality of work undertaken by schools in relation to individuals or groups of pupils
- monitoring the use of school and central resources
- identifying issues related to pattern and level of placements and provision in the LA
- monitoring inclusion and integration practice
3-11 & 11-16 ALN Panel Membership
The ALN Panel will normally be attended by a full membership of:
- The local Authority Lead Officer for Inclusion (Chair)
- Principal Educational Psychologist (who will act as Chair if the Lead Officer for Inclusion is absent) or representative
- Headteacher, Senior Leadership Team or ALNCo representatives
- LA Inclusion Officers
- Parental representation by SNAP Cymru when appropriate.
- Administrative support
The Education Looked After Children Coordinator will also attend as necessary.
As long as the Chair, an Educational Psychologist and an Inclusion Officer are present, the Panel will go ahead.
The 3-11& 11-16 Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Panels normally meet once a fortnight during term time. Dates, times and panel membership are organised in advance for the academic year. Meetings held in the school holidays are agreed by the Lead Officer for Inclusion and are held to meet statutory timescales.
In some circumstances when a school representative may be considered as having a possible vested interest in the outcome of a panel decision, it is advisable that the individual is excused from taking part in the discussion.
Minutes of the meeting are distributed within three working days.