There were 517,000 children and young people with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as at January 2023. This is an increase of 9% from 473,300 as at January 2022. This follows similar increases in recent years.
The combined total of children and young people with statements of SEN and EHC plans has increased each year since 2010. EHC plans were introduced from September 2014. The period for local authorities to transfer children and young people with statements of SEN to EHC plans started in September 2014 with statements of SEN being phased out by March 2018. As such we no longer see statements of SEN in the total.
Figures in this section refer to the total of both statements of SEN and EHC plans unless specified.
Children of compulsory school age continue to account for over two thirds of EHC plans
The number of children and young people with EHC plans has increased at all age bands, with largest increases in children of compulsory school age. This is a consistent long-term trend.
From September 2014, EHC plans replaced Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs) for young people in further education, with LDAs then being phased out. Data on the number of LDA's was not collected in SEN2 and therefore figures up to 2015 do not include LDA's. The percentage of children and young people with an EHC plan who are aged 16 years old and over has subsequently increased since January 2014, however this has now stabilised, with reductions in the percentage of EHC plans in these groups seen in recent years despite increases in overall numbers.
The majority of those with an EHC plan are male
71.8% of children and young people with an EHC plan are male, with 28.1% female. This is the first year for which data has been collected for gender.
Data is also available on the ethnicity of the child or young person with an EHC plan for the first time. The table below includes both high level groupings (Ethnicity major) and more detailed figures (Ethnicity minor).
This shows that 68.4% of those with an EHC plan are white, with 63.6% recorded as ‘English/Welsh/Scottish/Northern Irish/British’. Just over 10% of children and young people with an EHC plan have an unknown ethnicity, this includes where the ethnicity is not known to the local authority, is not recorded or data could not be provided.
Historic data on gender and ethnicity is available for school pupils with EHC plans in the Special educational needs in England publication.
Number of plans by establishment type
The method for collecting data on establishments has changed from previous years. A full time series to 2022 is still available within the data that can be downloaded from this publication, or via the table tool.
Previously, local authorities provided data on the number of EHC plans where the child or young person was attending through a set list of establishment types. From 2023, information on the specific establishment has been recorded, with either the Unique Reference Number (URN), UK Provider Reference Number or where neither are applicable, a specific category recorded.
As a result of this change, caution should be taken when comparing across years by establishment types.
Children and young people attending school and further education
Most children and young people with an EHC plan are attending a school, with 213,400 attending a mainstream school (41.3% of all EHC plans) and 171,700 attending a special school (33.2% of all EHC plans). A further 76,500 young people (14.8%) were attending further education.
2.3% of children and young people were not recorded as having a URN, UKPRN or one of the specific options available.
Awaiting provision/Not in education
Data on the number of children and young people awaiting provision is no longer collected in the same way.
Data has been collected on both the setting named on a plan and settings that a child or young person is currently attending. Further, in order to better define data on where a child or young person is not attending any placement, data on the number of children and young people who are not in education has been collected, including specifically where a notice to cease has been issued. This is in addition to the number of young people who are recorded as Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET).
Prior to this publication, due to changes in the data collection, comparisons to previous years were not advised. This includes changes to the categories recorded. Figures for awaiting provision up to and including 2017 are known to also include those who are NEET, which has since been a separate category.
In 2023, there were 12,100 young people recorded as NEET. A further 6,000 children and young people were not in education, of which 2,300 had a notice to cease their EHC plan issued. Of the remaining 3,700 who were not in education, 1,400 were of compulsory school age.
Elective home education
4,300 children and young people were recorded as in Elective home education.
8,400 children and young people were recorded as in other arrangements made by the local authority (Educated Otherwise Than At School, EOTAS), while 850 were recorded as other arrangements made by parents (excluding elective home education).