Will the Minister provide an update on free dyslexia tests for adults?
The Welsh Government understands that specific learning difficulties (SpLD) like dyslexia can have a significant impact on education and life experiences. By ensuring that inclusion and equity are fully embedded into our education system we aim to ensure all learners are equipped with the skills they need to succeed.
Early identification of additional learning needs (ALN) and the timely delivery of interventions are central to ensuring all children and young people have the opportunity to succeed and have access to an education which meets their needs. This is one of the principles of the new ALN system, which began a phased introduction in September this year.
The new ALN system will ensure that children and young people in education who have ALN, are aged 0-25 and who require additional support to meet their needs will have that support properly planned for and protected. A diagnosis is not required to ensure support is provided to a learner with ALN. Through our ALN Transformation programme we are aiming to raise the capacity of the education workforce to meet the needs of learners with a wide range of ALN, including dyslexia. As well as providing bilingual training and materials aimed at raising awareness, we are developing an ALN professional learning programme for ALN Co-ordinators who are the first port of call for professional advice and guidance in schools and further education institutions (FEIs). The first Chapters of this programme are now available free of charge on Hwb in Welsh and in English.
Further education (FE) colleges have specialist staff who can provide dyslexia screening for learners and, where needed, arrange for a full assessment to take place. They can also provide expert advice and support for learners with dyslexia. The Welsh Government provides colleges with Additional Learning Support funding which contributes to the additional costs of supporting learners with additional learning needs. This funding can be used for a range of purposes including one-off, external assessments, such as full dyslexia assessments by educational psychologists or specialist teachers.
The ALN system does not extend to higher education or employers. In higher education, universities will have their own on-site disability services to support students with day-to-day life at university and to help remove some of the barriers they may face in relation to their studies. To access these services, students do not necessarily need a confirmed diagnosis. Students with a confirmed SpLD diagnosis such as dyslexia are eligible to apply for a disabled students allowance, from Student Finance Wales, to provide additional and tailored support over and above that provided by their university.