Posted: Sun 25th Jun 2023

Consultation backs Additional Learning Needs proposals /
This article is old - Published: Sunday, Jun 25th, 2023

PROPOSALS to increase the ability of Blaenau Gwent schools to teach children with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) have been overwhelmingly supported in a consultation. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Responses received by the council show that 84 per cent of respondents are fully behind the proposals, while a further 13 per cent partially supported them.
Only three per cent of respondents did not support the proposals, which were out to consultation from April 24 to June 6.
In total 43 to 45 extra ALN spaces would be created.
The proposal involves increasing the capacity in primary schools from 61 to 86 – including 15 Welsh-medium places.
And in secondary schools the number would increase from 62 to 80.
The need for more spaces is to cope with the extra demand as all the council’s current ALN places are filled.
A report on the consultation responses was discussed at a Cabinet meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council on Wednesday, June 21.
Cabinet member for education Sue Edmunds said: “The proposal to increase the capacity of ALN by the introduction of additional resource bases in both primary and secondary schools require formal consultation as it is a change in the nature of the school.
“In April we agreed to conduct this consultation to satisfy the requirement of the Welsh Government (Schools) Organisation Code.”
Cllr Edmunds explained that there was a “comprehensive list” of who had fed into the consultation included in the documents.
Cllr Edmunds said: “The notable response was from Estyn, which was largely positive but did highlight some concerns about staffing and training and transport provision.”
Head of school improvement and inclusion, Luisa Munro-Morris said: “The only negative was around maybe we need to do more.”
Ms Munro-Morris explained that the first phase of rolling out the extra provision in schools would start in September if cabinet agreed the proposal.
A further second phase would be rolled out in the future “on a needs analysis” once the first roll-out is completed.
Ms Munro-Morris said: “In conclusion the consultation processes show that there is widespread support for the proposal.”
Deputy leader and environment portfolio holder, Cllr Helen Cunningham asked how the council would ensure funding is available so that children are provided with home to school transport to attend ALN provision.
Ms Munro-Morris said 11 ALN pupils living in Blaenau Gwent access provision outside the borough.
Ms Munro-Morris said: “It’s difficult to say with certainty that those learners will engage with the new resource bases in Blaenau Gwent because we need to consider parental and young people’s choice, but that offer is there and represents a potential saving.
“That would then mitigate any costs for home to school transport which is more than two miles but within Blaenau Gwent.”
Cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr John Morgan said: “This will help children in the county tremendously.”
Councillors unanimously agreed the report.
The extra ALN capacity would be at: ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Six places at Ebbw Fawr 3-16 learning community;
Six to eight places at Tredegar Comprehensive school;
10 places at Sofrydd primary school;
15 Welsh medium places at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg;
Six places at The River Centre – 3 to 16 Learning Community. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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