A review by the Department for Education will examine and seek to improve the educational outcomes of children considered to be “in need”.
Schools are being asked to respond to the consultation, which was launched today. The review wants to hear specifically from headteachers, designated safeguarding leads, special educational needs coordinators and educational psychologists.
A child is defined as “in need” if they are unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without the help of local authority services. This includes children who are disabled.
They are divided into three groups: children who have been given a child in need plan, those who have a child protection plan, and looked-after children who are in care. Reasons for being categorised as in need can include abuse or neglect, domestic violence and mental health problems such as acute stress.
Recent research found that around six per cent of all children were in need at some point during 2016. Pupils in need are also much more likely to have special educational needs – 23 per cent of all children in need are on an education, health and care plan or have a statement of SEND, compared to just 2 per cent of all other children.
They are also much more likely to be eligible for free school meals and therefore the pupil premium.
The research found that 46 per cent of children on child in need plans, 65 per cent of children on child protection plans, and 22 per cent of looked after children claimed free school meals, compared to 14 per cent for all other children.
The government’s call for evidence, which opened today and closes on June 1, aims to find out “how some children in need can achieve better educational outcomes than others, and what works in enabling children in need to achieve their potential”.
The rate of all children in need varies considerably between local authorities, with the highest rate more than four times the lowest rate (701 children in need per 10,000 children compared with 151 children in need per 10,000 children). Areas with the highest rate of children in need include Norfolk, Northumberland and Herefordshire.
As part of its review of children in need, the government has pledged to work with the Education Endowment Foundation, Early Intervention Foundation, and the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care, as well as engaging with children in need and their families.