Memorandum submitted by the Children's
Commissioner for Wales
The Children's Commissioner for Wales is an
independent children's rights institution in line with the Paris
Principles. The Commissioner's remit covers all areas of the devolved
powers of the National Assembly for Wales insofar as they affect
children's rights and welfare. Evidence in this submission will
not necessarily deal with issues affecting adults.
1. FURTHER EDUCATION
1.1 Specialist post-16 education placements
are commissioned for a small number of learners with learning
difficulties and/or disabilities on a cross border basis. These
placements are made for those learners whose needs cannot be met
on a day to day basis in any of the 25 FE institutions in Wales.
These placements are identified by a number of professionals.
Great care is needed when placing these young people in specialist
residential placements. The Children's Commissioner for Wales
is concerned about the involvement of the young people in the
planning of these placements and how the young people's welfare
is safeguarded in these placements by Welsh local authorities
or the Welsh Assembly Government. Given the special needs of learners,
there needs to be a clear commitment to ensuring the quality not
only of the learning experience but also the pastoral elements
of the specialist educational placements.
1.2 We are aware that these placements can
cause considerable disruption within families and that, although
there are appeal mechanisms in place, these may be not be available
to children and young people. Through discussions with the Welsh
Assembly Government we have been notified of plans to amend the
appeals procedure to allow children and young people themselves
to raise an appeal to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for
Wales (SENTW) and would welcome a similar policy change in other
areas of children's services.
evidence to the Additional Learning Needs Legislative Competence
Order of the National Assembly for Wales highlights a number of
other issues for post-16 learners. Of particular concern are the
statements at paragraph 21 about the lack of guidance for post-16
learners and the difficulties around the transfer of records leading
to disruption of the young person's education and the statement
about the lack of access to transport at paragraph 27.
1.4 Post-16 providers
21. The lack of a statutory framework and supporting
guidance for post-16 learners with additional learning needs hinders
the process of transition from school to further education, training
or employment. Careers officers help pupils with SEN to gain access
to post-16 provision that is appropriate for their needs. However,
schools and LEAs do not normally pass on pupils' records, statutory
assessments or statements to post-16 providers. As a result, post-16
providers often have to make a fresh start with assessments, leading
to delays in providing the necessary support.
22. Estyn produced reports in 2004 and 2005 on
provision for learners with additional learning needs in further
education (FE) colleges and work based learning companies.
23. These two reports highlighted many ways in
which going to FE college makes a positive difference to the lives
of young people with additional learning needs. However, there
were also some shortcomings, including the limited opportunities
for progression within or from FE for learners with severe or
profound learning difficulties, the lack of support for challenging
behaviour and limited access to specialist mental health services.
24. Overall, the main focus in work-based learning
is on immediate programme outcomes, such as securing employment
or a qualification, with less attention paid to learners' other
25. Few learners with additional learning needs
progress from college to work-based learning or employment. Many
of these learners need much more support to enable them to use
public transport because they lack the skill and confidence to
26. By extending the scope of legislation to
education and training for "all persons", irrespective
of age, the proposed order will open the way for improving transition
arrangements from school to other providers.
27. It is, however, very important to recognise
that lack of access to transport is a major barrier to equality
of access to education and training for learners with additional
learning needs and disabilities.
7 Proposed Additional Learning Needs LCO Committee-The
National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) Order 2007
Response to consultation Her Majesty's Chief Inspector for Education
and Training in Wales Back