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Circle Opinion

What to expect from the ALN code and how authorities can support it

Authors
Marcus Le Brocq
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In September, the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) code went live across Wales. The ALN code replaces the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) framework that will continue to function across England. The change is being made in order to bring support networks and resources together and improve outcomes for children and young people with identified additional learning needs.

Obviously, one of the major changes is in the wording. Special educational needs replace additional learning needs; therefore, SENCOs will become ALNCOs. The changes, however, are more than just linguistic and will involve significant changes in thinking about process and practice.

At present, any child or young person recognised as having SEN is given an individual education plan (IEP). These are being phased out in Wales, to be replaced by an individual development plan (IDP). IEPs stop when a young person finishes school; IDPs will carry on if the young person attends higher or further education, covering their entire education journey from 0-25.

ALN will further cover children and young people who have learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD), bringing LDD and SEN together in a single code.

Highlights

  • Covers each young person with ALN from 0-25
  • Merges SEN and LDD
  • IDPs to replace IEPs

About the IDP

IDPs are structured to include minimum standards that must be adhered to by every school and local authority:

  • A record of the child’s identified, developing and changing needs
  • Required additional provisions for each child
  • A timely, current action plan and agreed outcomes for each child
  • How each element of progress is and will be measured
  • Information that enables accountability which is legally enforceable
  • Review dates to measure actions, tasks and outcomes

Ensuring that IDPs work efficiently and effectively will require services to collaborate to ensure that children recognised with ALN receive the support that they need to achieve the stated goals. This co-ordination between schools, colleges, other providers and local authority services will require a greater degree of flexibility in receiving and transferring holistic case records and data seamlessly.

It will also require more robust data capture, entry and checking to ensure that all contributions have been considered and the information is current, accurate and relevant within a child’s IDP. This is vital given that the IDP is an accountable and legally enforceable document. In sharing and collaborating on such important documents, their security and management is also paramount, containing as they will vast quantities of sensitive personal data.

Children, parents, outcomes

The collaboration goes beyond just working with other authorities and schools as the child or young people move schools or move location. There also needs to be full engagement with, and the provision of, information and appropriate advice to the families and young people. Again, the information needs to be shared seamlessly in a secure and timely fashion to enable families, children and young people to input into their journey and opportunities as appropriate.

The success of the ALN code will depend on this sharing of specific information about meeting needs, so it’s important for schools, colleges, other providers and authorities to consider new ways in how they will address the challenges and include the views of young people, parents and carers in the process, and the necessary adaptations to their service.

The role of technology

With all the relevant information stored electronically, amending, updating, transferring and receiving case records and IDPs will be performed using synchronised common structured data via a central hub system. The easiest way to open the entire process to the multi professional eco system in a secure fashion is via dedicated portals; one each for parents/carers, schools/colleges, local authorities and professionals. This enables everyone who needs to contribute to the process to have self-service tailored access and visibility so they can more easily make their contributions.

Maintaining a single, uniquely structured ALN case record enables schools, colleges and authorities to use the holistic view of each child to establish effective support. They can operationally establish things like reminders so that they can review and assess each case in good time and strategically use the structured data to understand and better respond to patterns of unmet need in different groups.

Having a well-structured central record then plays into the accountable and legally enforceable element of the IDP, since a transparent record of all chronological activity within the IDP will be available on demand. Furthermore, where a child moves school or placement, or a young person goes to college or university, their IDP can be simply passed to prospective institutions at which they will be continuing their education. These institutions will have a full record of prospective students, enabling them to plan and facilitate offers for their joining in good time, increasing the opportunity and likelihood of meeting stated outcomes.

Security

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) necessitates robust handling of data such as IDPs and information surrounding young people. How does your school or authority store its data?

Working with a technology partner that can assist you with data hosting solutions is one option, since outsourcing hosting is one way of staying compliant with GDPR and means that you are storing data with a trusted partner. This means that you can store your data with the flexibility you need, on premise or in cloud, to give your teams real-time access to your data.

Aspects such as backups and downtime also need to be considered alongside security – if there’s a system outage, how long can you afford to be without your data and how much can you afford to lose? Scalable solutions offer greater flexibility in managing, storing and securing your data as well as working with a growing user population involved in the meeting of ALN support needs over many years.

Improving outcomes

Fundamentally, however, you need a technology solution and a technology partner that can empower your authority and the staff in schools, colleges and other providers in the education support eco system to achieve the fundamental objective of the ALN code – improving outcomes for children and young people with recognised ALN.

CACI’s IMPULSE Nexus software is being used by several Welsh councils to support this underlying objective, whilst also helping them to comply with data and security regulations by offering a fully managed hosting service. This helps to take the uncertainties out of data storage and management alongside providing an information management solution that facilitates the seamless recording, transfer and receiving of holistic case records and data with improved engagement and contribution from the people around the child.

IMPULSE Nexus fully supports the ALN code by operating a uniquely structured and synchronised common central hub case record and IDP with associated identification and support information. Further, the dedicated IMPUSE Nexus portals provide schools/colleges, parents/carers, professional and local authority staff a direct, relevant and focused online experience to collaborate on delivering the centralised IDP, with a fully auditable and transparent record of activity. This creates greater collaboration between professionals, providers and authorities, helping to realise the purpose of the ALN code in delivering better outcomes for children and young people.

If you would like any further information on how IMPULSE Nexus and how CACI’s dedicated team can support you with the implementation and future success of the ALN code in Wales, please visit: https://www.caci.co.uk/products/product/impulse-nexus

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Authors
Marcus Le Brocq
Email