£20m Funding for the Additional Learning Needs Sector in Wales – a blog by Jon Evans

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News has arrived with our team today (Via Business News Wales – thank you!) about the government’s plans to allocate an extra £20m spend in Additional Learning Needs (ALN) education provision across Wales.

We are absolutely delighted to hear this commitment to a sector that has been at the heart of our provision for many years. We started out with a small team of ambitious Account Managers who had a passion for sustaining supply for ALN schools. Now we employ a team of 12 people who work tirelessly to support our brilliant schools offering such an important provision to the education community in South Wales.

Alun Davies, Minister for Lifelong Learning is quoted by the publication:

“Our aim is to raise standards and extend opportunities for all our young people. Children and young people with additional learning needs make up almost a quarter of our school population; we cannot raise standards without targeting resources and improvement activities towards this group of learners”.

I marvel daily at the progression made within the sector when I visit our colleagues in the schools. To witness the independence of young people as they flourish and conquer challenges with inspirational learning from the most magnificent of teachers…it is truly wonderful to be a part of it.

New Directions is Wales’ longest surviving and oldest (we’re not quite creaking) education supply agency. We have watched as other agencies have set up and delivered a great service to schools, and we have witnessed short-comings of others that have not been quite ready for the exhilarating challenge of supply provision in such a brilliant sector.

In 2016 our organisation was named ‘Supplier of the Year’ for a second year at the ‘Welsh Procurement Awards’. We were also celebrated by our governing body – the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) as ‘Best Company to Work For…’ additionally we also became the first supply agency in Wales to be awarded Investors in People (IiP) Gold status.

All of this is wonderful…but as someone at the very heart of our organisation recently commented when questioned about how big we had become ‘we are big enough to matter, but small enough to care’.

ALN education provision across Wales is unique. Every school is individual and has its own set of values. But one thing is clear – it is a very united community and a proud one. This sector works hard to ensure that ‘every child matters’ and for that we applaud them. So when I said I was delighted about the extra funding for the sector…what I actually meant was that I am proud that the Welsh government is making sound investment in a service that has so much to offer so many.

Jon Evans, Branch Manager, New Directions Education ALN Provision