Country information for UK (Wales) - Systems of support and specialist provision

Development of inclusion and the role of special schools

There is a clear expectation within the Education Act 1996 that pupils with statements of special educational needs (SEN) will be included in mainstream schools. A parent’s wish to have their child with a statement educated in the mainstream should only be refused in the small minority of cases where the child’s inclusion would be incompatible with the efficient education of other children.

Provision for all pupils, including those with SEN, is a matter for the school as a whole. In addition to the governing body, the school’s head teacher and all other staff members have a range of day-to-day responsibilities. Whatever arrangements are made for meeting the needs of children with SEN in a particular special school, the statutory duties remain with the governing body rather than with the school staff.

The Welsh Government has summarised the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child under seven core aims which provide a clear message about inclusion. The Foundation Phase curriculum document states that:

… the Foundation Phase encompasses the developmental needs of children. At the centre of the statutory curriculum framework lies the holistic development of children and their skills, building on their previous learning experiences and knowledge. The Foundation Phase curriculum promotes equality of opportunity and values, and celebrates diversity. Positive partnerships with the home are fostered and an appreciation of parents/carers being the children’s first educators is recognised (p. 3).

Current provision

Most learners with SEN in Wales are educated in mainstream schools. These learners’ needs are therefore met by:

  • mainstream schools;

  • specialist agencies working with schools;

  • local authorities.

Quality indicators

All education and training providers in Wales are inspected by Estyn, Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales. It is independent of the Senedd, but receives its funding from the Welsh Government. Its purpose is to inspect quality and standards in education and training in Wales. Estyn inspects almost all education and training settings in Wales, from nurseries and schools to local authority adult and community learning. All education and training providers in Wales are inspected within six years of their last inspection.

Estyn also provides advice and guidance to the Welsh Government on quality and standards in education and training in Wales, publishing this advice in thematic reports commissioned by the Minister for Education. It also promotes the spread of best practice in education and training.


Last updated 03/05/2021

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