The Welsh government has published a White Paper setting out new legislative proposals which they say will create a fairer system for all those young people with additional learning needs in Wales.
Mr Lewis said the Welsh government was committed to reforming the system which was shown to be “complex bewildering and adversarial” and called on all those involved to have their say to shape the new legislation.
Under the new proposals the term special needs will be replaced with additional learning needs and Individual Development Plans (IDP) will replace statements of special needs.
These IDPs will be reviewed every year but with the flexibility to be looked at earlier where appropriate. A new code of practice will also be introduced.
The Welsh government said the White Paper entitled Legislative Proposals for Additional Learning Needs, aims to create a framework for support for learners aged 25 and under with additional learning needs, to create a collaborative process of assessment, planning and monitoring which “facilitates timely and effective interventions” as well as a fair and transparent system for resolving concerns and appeals.
The new proposals will replace existing legislation for the assessment and provision of support for children and young people with SEN in schools and learning difficulties and/or disabilities in post-16 education and training.
Mr Lewis was clear on why change was necessary as he introduced the new proposals.
He said: “Today’s system for supporting children with SEN is based on a model introduced more than 30 years ago that is no longer fit-for-purpose.
“Enquiries and reviews of SEN provision in Wales by Estyn, the Wales Audit Office and the National Assembly’s former Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills Committee have identified that the current system is complex, bewildering and adversarial.
“The evidence points to an assessment process which is inefficient, bureaucratic and costly, as well as insufficiently child-centred or user-friendly.
“Needs are sometimes identified late and interventions are not planned or implemented in a timely or effective way. Families tell us that they feel they have to battle at each stage of the system to get the right support for their child, and they don’t know where to turn for advice and information.”
The consultation will close on July 25.