Senedd Bites #75: Special needs reforms delayed

Special needs reforms delayed

The implementation of the Additional Learning Needs Act 2018 will be delayed until 2021 to give schools, colleges and local authorities more time to prepare. The law will require individual learning plans and assessments for under-25s with suspected special needs.

In a written statement, Education Minister, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor) said: “I would like to make it absolutely clear that learners and families will continue to have their needs met in advance of the implementation of the new additional learning needs system”.

There was support for the decision from Snap Cymru – a charity which works with children and young adults with special needs – but they also warned that a delay will prolong a situation which has “been chaos for years”.

Visit by Prince Andrew criticised

A visit to the University of South Wales by Prince Andrew has been described as “alarming”.

The visit, which was part of an entrepreneurship initiative, comes as the Queen’s second-eldest son is caught up in a sex abuse and sex trafficking scandal involving the late disgraced American financier, Jeffrey Epstein.

Prince Andrew has denied any involvement, despite accusations from victims that he was involved.

Leanne Wood AM (Plaid, Rhondda) said in the Senedd chamber – to heckles from Conservative AMs – that “While I’m a firm believer in the principle of innocent until proven guilty this member of the royal family has been accused of some very serious crimes and abuses of power.”

S4C launches online-only Welsh-learners channel

S4C launched a new online “channel” and hub for Welsh-learners. S4C Dysgu Cymraeg on 16th September – supported by the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

Chief Executive, Owen Evans, said: “We are keen to help learners at every stage of their journey to learn the language, but in particular, to attract them to watch S4C at the start of their ‘language journey’.”

£90million gas-fired “back-up” power station approved

The UK Government has approved a 299MW gas-fired power station near Swansea. The power station will provide back-up energy for the National Grid and is expected to be operational by 2022.

The operators, Drax Group, said: “Rapid response gas power stations are agile enough to ramp up quickly and support the grid at times of peak demand, making them highly complementary to intermittent renewable sources of power, like wind and solar.”

Wales tops the table of most bank closures

Wales has lost more bank branches than any other nation or region in the UK according to figures from consumer watchdog Which?

Two Welsh constituencies – Ogmore and Clwyd South – only had a single bank branch remaining, while Wales has lost 43% of its high street bank branches since 2015, compared to 40% in north-west England and 38% in Scotland.

Which? Said: “The industry must ensure no-one is left behind by the digital transition and that when banks shut their doors, they don’t shut their customers out of important banking services.”