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Cardiff Council

What is ALN?

​​​​​​Additional learning needs, often referred to as ‘ALN’, is a term used to describe learning difficulties or disabilities that make it harder for a child to learn compared to children of the same age.

Approximately one in five learners in Wales have additional learning needs (ALN).

All children may experience challenges with their learning. For most children, these difficulties are overcome with support from teachers and at home. However, children with ALN are likely to need extra or different help to be able to learn.

Some children may have ALN because of a medical condition or disability. Other children may have ALN without a diagnosis or disability. Children are not considered to have ALN just because their first language is not English or Welsh.

The definition of additional learning needs (ALN) is very similar to the current definition of special educational needs. The major difference is that it can be used for children and young people from 0 to 25. 

The Additional Learning Needs Education Tribunal (ALNET) Wales Act 2018 (Part 2, Chapter 1) (Chapter 2 ALN Code) says:

A person has additional learning needs if he or she has a learning difficulty or disability (whether the learning difficulty or disability arises from a medical condition or otherwise) which calls for additional learning provision.

Additional learning needs can affect a child or young person’s ability to learn. For example, someone’s ALN might affect their:

  • reading and writing,
  • ability to understand things,
  • behaviour or ability to socialise and communicate,
  • concentration levels, and
  • physical ability.
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