Government statistics today have revealed the proportion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities has risen for a third consecutive year.
The data shows that, as of January, there were 1,318,300 pupils with SEND in England, representing 14.9 per cent of the total pupil population. Here’s five key findings from the stats.
1. Number of SEND pupils rises for third year running
The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has risen for the third year in a row.
As of January 2019, there were 1,318,300 pupils with SEND in England, representing 14.9 per cent of the total population. This is up from 1,276,215 (14.6 per cent) in January 2018 and 1,244,255 (14.4 per cent) in January 2017.
Between January 2010 and 2016 numbers had fallen from 1,704,980 down to 1,228,785.
The government said that the recent increase is driven by both a rise in the number of pupils with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans and an increase in those receiving SEND support.
In January, 271,200 pupils, or 3.1 per cent of the total pupil population, had an EHC plan, up from 2.9 per cent last year, and 1,047,200 pupils (11.9 per cent) are on SEND support.
The most common SEND support needs this year are speech, language and communication needs. Among pupils with an EHC plan, Autistic Spectrum Disorder is the most common type of special educational need.
2. Speech needs becomes most common SEND type
Across all pupils with SEND, the most common type of primary need is speech, language and communication needs, making up 22 per cent of all SEND pupils.
Last year it was moderate learning difficulty, which has decreased from 24 per cent to 20 per cent.
3. Autism still most common for EHC plan needs
Of those with an EHC plan, autistic spectrum disorder remains the most common primary type of need, with 29 per cent of pupils with an EHC plan having this primary type of need.
This is an increase from 28 per cent in January 2018.
4. But there’s been a rise in SEMH amongst primary pupils
The statistics show social emotional and mental health (SEMH) and moderate learning difficulty are more prevalent in older pupils.
However, analysis from children’s literacy charity the Driver Youth Trust found that there had been a rise in SEMH amongst primary pupils.
This year there were 108,979 incidences of SEMH in primary schools, which is 2.3 per cent of the total number of primary school pupils. Proportionally, this is an increase from last year’s 2.19 per cent. In 2015 the percentage of SEMH was 1.85 per cent.
Chris Rossiter, CEO of the Driver Youth Trust, said: “All the data indicates that we are seeing an increase of pupils having an identifiable SEN, particularly in primary. To meet this growing demand, the sector must be adequately equipped to effectively support these pupils.”
5. More SEND pupils being educated privately
Since 2011 there has been a steady decline in the proportion of SEND pupils being educated in state-funded secondary schools.
In 2011, 43.6 per cent of SEND pupils attended state secondary schools. As of January 2019, the figure was 34.2 per cent. This is a slight increase from 33.9 per cent last year.
Meanwhile, the proportion of SEND pupils being educated in private schools has gradually increased, with 7.1 per cent of all SEND pupils now attending independent schools compared to four per cent in 2010.
The majority of SEND pupils continue to be educated in state-funded primary schools. This year 56.9 per cent attended state-funded primary schools, which is a slight proportional decrease from last year’s 57.1 per cent.
Schools Week revealed in 2017 that a lack of state-funded places was forcing councils to spend hundreds of million of pounds for SEND pupils to attend private schools.
Local authorities blamed the shift in a lack of funds for new state places, leaving them unable to keep pace with the rising numbers of diagnoses.