Welsh Government expect that mainstream further education colleges will normally meet the education and training needs of most young people who have a learning difficulty.
Places at specialist colleges are only funded when young people are not able to have their identified education and training needs met through mainstream provision.
Welsh Government guidance states:
While the Welsh Government will take account of the wishes of the young person, their families and/or carers, it does not have a legal duty to fund specialist provision of their choice.
Under section 140 of the Learning and Skills Act (2000), Welsh Government must arrange for an assessment of education and training needs for school leavers with statements of special educational needs.
If you are uncertain about specialist further education colleges in Wales, this brochure developed for stakeholders may be useful. It outlines the colleges and types of courses on offer as well as key differences between school and college for young people with complex ALN. It also describes how a college placement differs from social care.
Learning and Skills Plans
The assessment of education and training needs is undertaken by Careers Wales Advisors and results in a Learning and Skills Plan (LSP). If a specialist college is identified as a provider of education and training, an application is made to Welsh Government by Careers Wales.
More information is available on the Careers Wales website.
Placements at specialist colleges
Welsh Government work with local authorities to agree any jointly funded elements of placements, for example when residential or health-related needs are identified.
Places at specialist colleges are typically made for two academic years and include target-driven and person-centred outcomes that are regularly monitored.
Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Transformation
The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 sees a move from Careers Wales Advisors writing Learning and Skills Plans to Individual Development Plans (IDPs). Local Authorities will have responsibility for maintaining the IDPs and securing placements at specialist colleges. The implementation of the new system for children who have statements of special education needs has been delayed by Welsh Government to not start until January 2022 and there is uncertainty on when post-16 aspects of the new system will commence.
You can read more about ALN Transformation programme.
You can also contact Kirsten Jones our Policy Officer (Wales) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Advice and support
SNAP Cymru provides information, advice and support for parents, children and young people who have or may have special educational needs or disabilities.