Special Educational Needs: Five findings from the latest statistics

This morning the government has published the latest statistics on pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and the provision they receive in schools. Schools Week rounded up the main findings.


1. More pupils with SEN

The proportion of pupils with special educational needs has risen for the second consecutive year, after a period of decline.

In January 2018 1,276,215 (14.6 per cent) of pupils were recorded as having a special educational need, up from 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.

2. More pupils with a statement or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan

This year 253,680 pupils were recorded as having a statement of SEN or an EHC plan, an increase of 11,495 since January 2017. This is a small rise from 2.8 per cent of the total pupil population to 2.9 per cent.

A further 1,022,535 pupils are on SEN support, equal to 11.7 of the total pupil population, compared to 11.6 per cent in January 2017.


3. Autism is one of the most common needs

For pupils with a statement or EHC plan, Autistic Spectrum Disorder is the most common type of SEN, accounting for 28.2 per cent of this group of pupils. This is followed by pupils with speech, language and communications needs, who make up 14.6 per cent of those with a statement or EHC plan.

For pupils receiving SEN support, a ‘moderate learning difficulty’ is the main type of need, accounting for 24.0 per cent of these pupils. Again, the second most common need is speech, language and communication at 22.8 per cent.


4. SEN continues to be more prevalent in boys

In January 2018, 14.7 per cent of boys were on SEN support, compared to 8.2 per cent of girls. This is very similar to January 2017, when 14.6 per cent of boys and 8.1 per cent of girls were on SEN support.

The proportion of boys with a statement or EHC plan rose between 2017 and 2018, from 4.0 per cent to 4.2 per cent, while the proportion of girls with a statement or EHC plan stayed the same at 1.6 per cent.

5. Pupils with SEN are more likely to be on free school meals or from traveller families

Pupils with SEN remain more likely to be eligible for free school meals at 25.8 per cent compared to 11.5 per cent of pupils without special educational needs.

Pupils with statements or EHC plans are also more likely to be eligible for free school meals than pupils on SEN support (30.9 per cent compared to 24.5 per cent).

Pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs are particularly likely to be claiming free school meals, making up 31.3 per cent of pupils with SEN support and 41.2 per cent of pupils with a statement or EHC plan.

SEN is most prevalent in travellers of Irish heritage and Gypsy or Roma pupils, at 30.9 per cent and 26.8 per cent respectively.

Travellers of Irish heritage and black Caribbean pupils had the highest percentage of pupils with statements or EHC plans, at 4.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively, while  Indian pupils had the lowest percentage of pupils with statements or EHC plans at 1.8 per cent, compared with 2.9 per cent of all pupils nationally.


Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One comment

  1. It’s a pity that the National Funding Formula for High Needs isn’t responsive to changes in need, and therefore that funding won’t keep pace with these increases.
    I say this because half of each LA’s 2017/18 spending is locked into the NFF in cash terms for 4 years! A high proportion of the rest is then allocated on population, which doesn’t match needs with a more random incidence, (which often come at a high cost). There are some other proxy factors but the indicators are not up to date. The only updating is for special school pupils (but only at £4,000 rather than the £10,000 per place that local authorities have to pay schools) and cross-boundary placements.
    This is a real threat to school budgets.