Step-back Cymru

Supporting the Additional Learning Act

Step-back was desigend to support the Additional Learning Act. A whole school approach to supporting children and young people with additional learning needs to be independent learners

Step-back-Overview-Flyer Jan2020 

Step-back Training Flyer Jan 2020

Step Back is designed as a whole school approach, to support the learning and teaching of all children and young people with additional learning needs (ALN). Sarah Hughes, Head of SenCom Vision Impairment Service, Torfaen and Tracey Pead, ALN Transformation Lead for South East Wales have been instrumental in the creation and development of the Step Back principles. It has been a pleasure to work in partnership with them and a variety of educational settings throughout this region, supporting ALN transformation in Wales

The Step-back resources have been developed by Gwyn McCormack at Positive Eye to support schools and colleges in Wales to implement the requirements of the new Additional Learning Act

Why Step-back?
Maximising children and young people’s opportunities to fulfil their potential by supporting and teaching them to develop their knowledge and skills is the aim of all practitioners. The process for children and young people to reach their outcomes is complex particularly the concept that ‘support’ plays in responding to the individual need of the ‘learner’.
The Step Back Approach places the needs of learners with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) at the heart of the school improvement planning process. It has sometimes been the case that the additional learning needs of those with ALN, are often seen as additional planning needs for the teachers and even the senior leaders of the education setting. By adopting the Step Back Approach the education setting will be adopting a set of resources and training across the setting that will demonstrate the links to policy and practice that allows ALN to act as the starting point for planning, rather than being seen as the final point.

How does the Step-back approach link to the new Additional Learning Needs Act?
The Step-back Approach will help settings to develop effective practice in line with the new ALN Act requirements for Wales. The ALN Act adopts a rights-based approach where the views, wishes and feelings of the child, child’s parent or young person are central to the planning and provision of support; and the child, child’s parent or young person are enabled to participate as fully as possible in the decision making processes.

What are the key strengths of Step-back?
A Person Centred Approach is a key strength of Step-back. This whole school approach includes ready to go activities for the school/college/service to use. Activities include Easy Easier, promoting the voice of the learner and strategies from the Step-in, Step-back planning documents. Adopting this approach sends the clear message that this is everybody’s business.

vi training courses

How does Step-back support workforce development?
As part of the ALN Act Workforce development there is a requirement for settings to employ a programme of skills development for education practitioners. The Step- back approach is specifically designed to assist education settings in embedding core skills development for ALL education practitioners supporting them to understand how they can support a wide range of low complexity, high incidence ALN.

How does Step-back link to the Estyn Common Inspection Framework
Step-back includes explicit links to the Estyn Common Inspection Framework, making it simple for school leadership teams and governors to adopt and incorporate the Whole School Step-back approach into their setting.

How does Step-back link to Successful Futures?
The intention of Successful Futures and the Welsh Government is that learners will benefit from experiences at school that will support them as they become young adults. The Step-back Approach will challenge the need to consider WHY and not just WHEN, WHAT and HOW support is delivered, whilst being mindful of what is important to and not just for the learner For learners to fulfil the principles of Successful Futures they will need to have developed the skills required for success. The principles of the Step-back Approach are entirely complementary to these curriculum goals. Without being taught how to ask for help when they need it and recognise when they are meeting success without additional support is crucial to their long term success in life and ultimately work.

How can your school/setting access the resources and training required to implement the Step-back Approach?
Qualified Accredited Step-back Trainers from your region are available to deliver training for your educational settings. Step-back Trainers are trained to provide raising awareness sessions about Step-back for the whole setting and also can deliver the accredited Step-back Practitioner Award. The Award supports practitioners to understand their role and purpose in supporting learners with ALN, promoting and embedding a culture of

Stepping-in and Stepping-back to support children and young people to be independent learners.

Watch the video about how Step-back supports a whole school approach to independent learners.

Additional Learning Act

The Step-back Practitioner’s Course for Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinators (ALNCOS)/class teachers/tutors/teaching assistants/learning support assistants

The Step-back Practitioner’s Course and the Step-back Train the Trainer course were developed in partnership with Sarah Hughes and Alison Saunders of the SenCom Vision Impairment Service. SenCom Vision Impairment Service is part of the South East Wales Consortium Sensory and Communication Support Service.

The Step-back Practitioners Course  can be completed by any educational practitioner supporting learners with Additional Learning Needs (ALN). The Step-back Award has been developed to support practitioners to understand their role and purpose in supporting learners to become as independent as possible.
Course aims:
1. To demonstrate knowledge and understanding of ‘support’ and of the ‘support role’
2. To identify how and when to step-in and how and when to step-back
3. To embed the Step-back Code the principles which guide the Step-back approach and which underpin this course as core values within the practitioners day to day practice

Two day course
Practitioners attend a two day course led by their local Step-back Trainer and complete a series of activities linked to each of the 10 Step-back statements within the Step-back Code. Following the course the practitioners are also expected to complete a Learner’s Voice Case study with a learner they currently support.


The course is internally assessed by Positive Eye Ltd. On achieving the accreditation the practitioner will become a Step-back Champion which entitles them to carry out Step-in, Step-back techniques with learners across their setting.

Step-back Train the Trainer course

The Step-back Trainer course is specifically for ALNCOs/ Specialist Teachers of ALN, School/Setting Senior Leaders. As part of a regional/local authority Step-back model of delivery, a small group (approx 14) of senior ALN practitioners from a broad range of settings will become accredited Step-back trainers entitling them to deliver the Step-back Practitioner’s course to settings within their local authority. Registration for Step-back Trainers is with Positive Eye Ltd and is renewable annually.

The course is internally assessed by Positive Eye Ltd. On successful completion of the course Trainers will receive a Certificate of Recognition and become a registered Step-back Trainer.
Course Materials – all materials are provided in download format

Step-back is copyright protected by Positive Eye Ltd

To be put in touch with your local Step-back Trainer or to find out more contact:
Gwyn McCormack
Step-back Co-ordinator at Positive Eye
Phone: 0794757119


I don’t know why everyone in the country isn’t using this programme. In my opinion every special school should have a copy. As soon as you begin to use Positive Looking you realise how good it is. VI can be low on the education agenda and in Bradford the resource has really helped us to bring it to the fore

Testimonial: Positive Looking – Yvonne Smith, Advisory Teacher for Children with VI, Bradford, UK