- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
The Welsh Government will “closely follow” discussions about the future of additional learning needs education in Powys, education minister Huw Lewis said today.
Labour Mid and West AM Joyce Watson called for government intervention ahead of the publication of Powys Council’s final budget for 2014/15.
The council plans to cut £20 million from its next budget. Among the cuts featured in the council’s ‘public priorities’ questionnaire is a proposal to provide additional learning needs through mainstream schools rather than specialist units, which the council calculates would save £350,000.
Speaking during Assembly questions this afternoon, Mrs Watson said:
“A constituent contacted me this week extremely concerned about the future of special educational needs provision in Powys.
“A huge amount of time, effort and money has been invested in re-organising education in Powys over recent years. People have fought hard to deliver SEN services as part of that.
“Will you engage with Powys Council as a matter of urgency to discuss the future of specialist SEN and additional learning needs services in the county?”
There are currently three local authority-maintained special schools in the county: Cedewain School and Brynllywarch School in and near Newtown; and Penmaes School, Brecon. In addition there are specialist centres at primary schools in Ystradgynlais, Brecon, Crickhowell, Builth Wells, Llandrindod Wells, Llanidloes, Knighton, Welshpool, Machynlleth and Newtown. There are also pre-school specialist centres at Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Newtown and Ystradgynlais.
Brecon High School, Llandrindod High School and Llanidloes High School host specialist Aspergers units which offer specialist provision for pupils with a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome.
Responding to Mrs Watson, the minister said he could not intervene in the decision-making process because he might be called upon to make a determination at a later date. However, he agreed to closely follow developments in Powys.
Mr Lewis also confirmed plans to bring forward in this Assembly an SEN Reform Bill, to support learners with special educational needs in Wales.
Members of the public who wish to complete Powys County Council’s budget questionnaire can do so online at www.powys.gov.uk