Common questions about getting extra help in mainstream schools

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This advice applies in Wales only. Read information for families in England, Northern Ireland or Scotland.

Changes to the education system in Wales

A new system of support for children with additional learning needs (ALN), called the ALN framework, was introduced on 1 September 2021 to replace the existing special educational needs (SEN system).

School Action/Action Plus is part of the old system of support for children with ALN and is being phased out.

If your child starts to receive support in education for the first time after 1 September 2021, their support will come under the ALN framework.

If your child was receiving support through School Action/Action Plus before 1 September 2021, they will move onto the new system sometime before August 2024.

The information on this page might be useful until that point.

My son finds reading and maths difficult and seems to need a lot of extra help. I’ve heard he should have an Individual Education Plan (or IEP). But the school say they don’t do these.

IEP’s are a way of recording the extra help a child is getting, the targets they are working towards, and monitoring their progress. The school does not have to use IEP’s, but they must have a system in place that does the same job of monitoring the progress of an individual child.

School say they won’t give my daughter extra help as they are awaiting the results of an assessment for ASD.

A child does not need a particular diagnosis before they start to receive extra support. The school has a duty to identify and support those pupils who need a lot more help than other pupils of the same age due to a learning difficulty or disability.

My son has Asperger Syndrome and finds school stressful but I’m told he doesn’t need extra help as he is above average at maths and literacy.

A child may have special educational needs even if he or she is progressing at an average or above average rate in academic subjects at school. Some children may appear to be doing well, but need help with other areas of learning such as communication, behaviour, social or physical skills. Some children may get the extra help at School Action or School Action Plus.  Other children who need a lot more help may have a statement of special educational needs.

My 4 year old disabled son starts reception next year. He’s still in nappies. The school won’t take him unless I agree to come in and change him – they say it’s not the teacher’s job to do this.

A school cannot refuse to accept a child who has not been toilet trained or require a parent to come in and change the pupil. As part of their duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils, schools should ensure there are staff available to carry out personal care for a child, either on a voluntary basis or as part of their contract.