Given that 14 out of 19 SEN specialist services in Autistic Spectrum Disorder felt they were not meeting demand in July 2018, what action has the Welsh Government taken to address this issue?
Local authorities are responsible for planning their workforce and training needs. Their duties to identify, assess and make provision for special educational needs (SEN) include a responsibility to ensure that appropriately qualified staff are available to meet learners needs.
In order to assist local authorities we commissioned the Data Unit Wales to undertake a data collection of the local authority specialist services workforce. The report of this data collection was published and sent to local authorities in July 2018.
The data collection focused on those specialist support staff that required a specialist qualification to undertake their role - that is, sensory impairment specialists and educational psychologists. Autistic Spectrum Disorder ASD is listed in the report as one of a wide range of types of SEN served by the educational psychology service.
Local authorities are aware that working in partnership can help ensure expertise and resources are targeted effectively to support learners with special educational needs. Some local authorities already share with other authorities their specialist support staff that are able to provide services through the medium of Welsh.
We are continuing to work with our Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Transformation Leads to help strengthen the capacity of specialist services in Wales to meet the needs of learners with ALN. This work includes the allocation of £289k to support post graduate training of the local authority based specialist sensory workforce.
To ensure the supply of educational psychologists in Wales the Welsh Government funds fees and bursaries for 10 students per year on Cardiff University’s Doctorate in Educational Psychology (DEdPsy). The new arrangement from September 2019 has been strengthened to reflect the need for EPs able to work through the medium of Welsh and to encourage DEdPsy graduates to work in Wales.
With regard to ASD, in order to raise awareness of ASD we have funded the development and roll out of ‘Learning with Autism’, a bilingual package of resources for early years, primary and secondary education providers which raises awareness across whole school communities. Over 4,500 teaching and support staff and over 16,500 pupils have undertaken this training.