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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
New power bid over special needs
Teacher and class
Children's needs are assessed through the 'statementing' system
The education minister will make the Welsh assembly's first bid for extra powers when he puts forward plans to restructure special needs education.

Some parents in Wales say there is a postcode lottery and it is hard to get appropriate care for their children.

Under the new Government of Wales Act, the Welsh assembly is now able to create its own legislation.

The proposals by Carwyn Jones could lead to new Welsh laws to change the way children's needs are assessed.

One mother from Carmarthenshire has spoken of her difficulty in getting appropriate care under the current system - known as statementing - which assesses the needs of children.

Caroline Keane set up the charity Dyslexia Wales after her children - now aged 17 and 19 - were diagnosed with the condition.

If you do have to follow the system that is provided, you know perfectly well that maybe your child doesn't suit it
Caroline Keane

Ms Keane said she tried to get statements for her children, but eventually decided she was wasting her time.

Speaking earlier in the year, she said: "Both of them were diagnosed with dyslexia, my son also had hyperactivity tension deficit disorder, and dyspraxia, so he had a very broad spectrum of difficulties.

"There is no system out there to help you really.

"If you do have to follow the system that is provided, you know perfectly well that maybe your child doesn't suit it, and it's crippling them."

Denise Inger, director of Snap - Special Needs and Parents - said some parents felt there was a "postcode lottery" over statementing in Wales.

"Whatever the change is, it must be something better than what we have now," she said.

"We need joint working, joint commissioning, and local and regional collaboration in the best interests of children."

Carwyn Jones
It is vitally important we work to ensure that everyone here in Wales has equal access to education
Carwyn Jones

"An all-Wales criteria in relation to assessment of additional learning needs would be a good start," she added.

Mr Jones's proposal will be the assembly's first Legislative Competence Order (LCO) to be announced, which will be taken forward under the Government of Wales Act.

If conferred by Parliament, it will allow the assembly to pass Welsh laws, known as Assembly Measures.

Mr Jones said the aim was to build on the former Education Lifelong Learning and Skills committee's review of Special Educational Needs.

"We will now consider how best to drive forward improvements for children and young people with special educational needs and their parents and carers," he said.

"It is vitally important we work to ensure that everyone here in Wales has equal access to education, are given the best opportunities to reach their full potential, and that barriers to learning are removed."

Last week the first minister set out the assembly's legislative programme for the coming year, making child poverty, housing, health, education, the environment and the Welsh language priorities for the government.




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