Inclusion and Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Overview

The system for supporting children and young people who have Special Educational Needs has now started to change. The change will take place over a period of three years and the term Special Educational Needs will be replaced with the term Additional Learning Needs (ALN). It will also replace the term Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (LDD).

As part of these changes, there will be an emphasis on high aspirations and improved outcomes for all children and young people who have ALN.

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. A small number of children and young people, however, will have ALN, which requires Additional Learning Provision (ALP). ALP is additional to or different from educational or training provision, which is generally available for all. Explaining how we meet your child’s needs is known as the graduated response.

What does it all mean?

From September 2021, the term Additional Learning Needs replaced the term Special Educational Needs, and it will encompass children and young people aged 0-25 who have needs that require ALP.

A person has additional learning needs 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.

It is important to remember that children and young people learn in different ways, and their needs may change over time. Through a continuous cycle of identifying needs and sharing information, planning, taking action and reviewing progress, different support can be identified and provided as necessary.

The support could be increased, reduced or changed over time according to your child’s individual progress. 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.

What to do if you think your child needs help

If you are concerned about your child’s progress, speak to the school directly. Your child’s class teacher will:

  • Provide extra support for your child and will review this regularly to see if any further support is required.
  • Get further advice and support from the schools Additional Learning Needs Coordinator
  • Get advice from specialists, such as an educational psychologist or a speech therapist.

If the Additional Learning Needs Coordinator feels it is possible that your child has long term learning needs, they may consider that your child requires an assessment of ALN. This assessment may involve observation, tests, medicals and interviews with your child and ALN specialists.

Early Years

Should it be determined that a child who is not yet of compulsory school age and not in a school setting has ALN, the Local Authority are responsible for securing the ALP and writing their Individual Development Plan (IDP). The Local Authority has an Early Years Additional Learning Needs Lead Officer who can be contacted for advice and support.

Get more information about ALN for pre-school children.

School Age Pupils

For children who are of compulsory school age and in a school setting, 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 Additional Learning Needs. This decision will be made within 35 working days, unless the school requires further specialist assessment through the Local Authority or Health Services, in which case a further 12 weeks may be required.

Further Education Institutions

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 the Local Authority for further advice and support.

Universal Provision

Universal Provision is the name given to the provision, which is routinely available to all children and young people and 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

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 as such will require an IDP.

Support through the medium of Welsh

One of the core aims of the ALN Act is to create a bilingual support system for learners with ALN. Local authorities and governing bodies are required to consider whether a child or young person should have a Welsh-language Additional Learning Provision (ALP); this duty is ongoing, rather than a one-off decision. If a child or young person needs ALP through the medium of Welsh, the school, or Denbighshire County Council will take all reasonable steps to ensure the provision.

Individual Development Plan

An Individual Development Plan, or IDP, replaces Statements of Special Educational Needs 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.

IDPs will be phased in over the next three years following the Welsh Government timetable, as the Statements and Individual Education Plans used currently 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. The majority of these IDPs will be written and maintained by schools, in some more complex cases, however, schools may request that the Local Authority consider the needs of the child or young person. If these needs are found to be complex and require specialist input, the Local Authority may write and then either direct the school to maintain the plan or maintain it themselves.

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

  • to reconsider whether a child has ALN or not;
  • to reconsider a school IDP with a view to revising it;
  • to decide whether the Local Authority should take over responsibility for maintaining an IDP;
  • to reconsider a school’s decision to cease to maintain an IDP.

Children who are not of compulsory school age and do not attend an LA-maintained school, who have ALN and require an IDP will have this written and maintained by the Local Authority, through the 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 the Local Authority 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. The Local Authority is 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. They are all about putting the child or young person at the centre of identifying their needs, planning their provision and reviewing this.

Ensuring that children and young people are involved in identifying what is important to and for them, in planning their provision and in outlining their hopes and aspirations, explaining how they wish to realise these are all part of an overarching ethos to person-centred practice.

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

If you are not happy with the decision of a school regarding the consideration of ALN, you can ask for the Local Authority to reconsider this decision. Prior to this, we would recommend that you discuss your concerns with your child’s school. After the discussion, if you remain dissatisfied, you can contact the Local Authority to request a reconsideration with the details at the bottom of this page.

The reconsideration period can take up to seven weeks. During a reconsideration, the Local Authority will review the information the school used to make their decision and can determine that they agree with the school decision or that they disagree with this. Should the Local Authority disagree, they could direct the school to either write and maintain an IDP for the child or young person or to amend the current version.

If you are not happy with the decision of the Local Authority regarding ALN, you have the right to appeal to the Educational Tribunal (Wales).  Any appeals must be made by the first working day within eight weeks of the decision of the Local Authority. If the dispute resolution services noted below are used, the time scale for appeal is extended by a further eight weeks.

Find out more about the Educational Tribunal (Wales) (external website)

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. 

Find out how to contact SNAP Cymru (external website)

A Disagreement Resolution Service is also available, which is provided by SNAP Cymru. You can get information from your designated coordinator or by contacting SNAP Cymru directly.

Find out more about SNAP Cymru's Disagreement Resolution Service (external website)


We delegate funding to schools to support learners in mainstream schools including those who have ALN.

The amount of money delegated to schools is agreed by Headteachers at the School Budget Forum as a percentage of the overall school budget. Denbighshire delegates the majority of the education budget to schools.

Moderation meeting

To ensure that the funding is appropriately allocated to individual schools, an annual Moderation Meeting takes place between the Headteacher, the school ALN Coordinator and Specialist Advisors from the Local Authority.

Quality assurance

We undertake a quality assurance activity with schools to ensure that the provision noted for the learners, including those with ALN is in place and that the impact is being monitored effectively. We also provide training and support in how to accurately record the support learners, including those with ALN have for schools.

More information

For more information on supporting learners in mainstream Denbighshire schools including those with ALN, please contact the ALN Coordinator at the school

Find contact details for a school to contact an ALN Coordinator.

Or you can contact Education Services using the following contact details:

Write to:

Education Services
Denbighshire County Council
PO Box 62
LL15 9AZ

Phone: 01824 708064