The Welsh Government has announced that funding has been named available for local authorities to improve or create facilities that can cater to the needs of learners with Additional Learning Needs.
Being distributed through local authorities, the £20 million worth of investment will act upon the Additional Learning Needs Act, whilst also supporting the delivery of the Curriculum for Wales. This will ensure that all learners are taught in spaces that are equipped with the technologies and facilities that they need.
Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said:
“This investment will make a real difference to learners with additional needs across Wales, making sure they have the facilities they need to support their learning.
“I want to ensure we support and inspire all learners to reach their full potential, which is why implementing our Additional Learning Needs Act is central to our wider programme of educational reform.
“Estyn recently reported on the steady progress towards implementing ALN reform, ad strong support from the sector. It’s important that investment in education settings underpins that progress.”
Mainstream schools, specials schools and pupil referral units can all benefit from the funding, with examples of how the money can be spent being the creation of quiet or sensory areas, upgrading or purchasing new equipment such as specialist sensory aids, and for improving the inclusivity of learning environments.
Whitmore High School, Barry, is an example of a school that has recently completed a new specialist Autism Resource Base thanks to funding from the Welsh Government and their Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme. They can now offer a quieter, low-arousal environment, quiet sensory rooms, kitchen facilities for cooking sessions, outdoor space, and their own wellbeing dog to provide support to students.
Head of School, Innes Robinson, said:
“Our Autism Base gives pupils a mainstream school experience within in specialist setting there empathy is embedded in every decision. We work closely with families and understand we are on an important journey with them. Our provision is a central part of Whitmore High School and we want our students to feel fully included in school life and have the same opportunities as other pupils.”