Reporting Year 2022

Education, health and care plans

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  1. Footnote added to advise on correction to figures for Medway local authority

This publication provides data on children and young people with an education, health and care (EHC) plan in England and, historically, for those with a statement of special educational needs (SEN). 

Data is presented for both the caseload as at January 2022, for example the number of EHC plans, and for activity during the 2021 calendar year, for example the number of new EHC plans in the calendar year. As such this covers a period affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Data covering SEN in schools, including EHC plans and SEN support, is available in the ‘Special Educational Needs in England’ publication, available in the ‘Related pages’ sidebar.


Headline facts and figures - 2022

The total number of Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans has continued to increase

The number of children and young people with EHC plans increased to 473,300, as at January 2022. This has increased each year since 2010.

The number of new EHC plans made in the calendar year has also continued to increase

62,200 new EHC plans were made during 2021. The number of new EHC plans has increased each year since their introduction in 2014.

The number of initial requests for an EHC plan increased during the calendar year, continuing the long-term trend of increases

There were 93,300 initial requests for an EHC plan during 2021, up from 76,000 in 2020. Apart from a decrease in 2019, initial requests have increased each year since EHC plans were introduced.

The proportion of new plans issued within 20 weeks has increased 

In 2021, 59.9% of new EHC plans were issued within 20 weeks. This was an increase when compared to 2020 but lower than the 60.4% issued in 2019.

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Education, Health and Care plans

The number of Education, Health and Care plans has continued to increase

There were 473,300 children and young people with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans as at January 2022. This is an increase of 10% from 430,700 as at January 2021. This follows similar increases in recent years.

The combined total of children and young people with statements 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 and ended on 31 March 2018, as such we no longer see statements of SEN in the total. 

Children of compulsory school ages continue to account for over two thirds of EHC plans

This is a consistent long-term trend.

From September 2014, EHC plans replaced Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs) for children in further education. 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 but has been stabilising.

The number of children and young people with an EHC plan in all establishment types has increased

Whilst the number of children and young people across all establishment types has increased, the proportion of young people with EHC plans receiving provision in special schools has decreased to 34.8%, while the proportion in mainstream schools is now at 40.5%. This is due to larger increases in provision in mainstream and other settings.

Data is also collected for children and young people where they are not currently receiving provision in an education setting or are awaiting provision in a different education setting. 16,300 children and young people were recorded under one of these categories in January 2022 (shown as ‘educated elsewhere’ in the table above and broken down in further detail below). 

12,500 young people were recorded as not in education, employment or training (NEET) and a further 4.000 children and young people have been recorded as ‘Other’, which includes those who have been issued with a notice to cease the EHC plan (for example, after taking up employment).

Awaiting Provision 

Awaiting provision includes children and young people who are awaiting the provision specified on their EHC plan. This includes some children and young people who are in an education setting but are awaiting provision in another setting, for example those currently attending a mainstream school and awaiting provision in a special school. This also includes some children and young people who are not currently in an education setting but are awaiting placement, for example where they have moved in to the area and a placement has not yet started.

Due to changes in the data collection, comparisons to previous years are not advised. This includes changes to the categories recorded. Figures for awaiting provision up to and including 2017 are known to also include those not in employment, education or training (NEET), which is now a separate category.

Of those awaiting provision, 1,500 are children of compulsory school age who are not currently in some form of education. This represents 0.3% of all EHC plans. A further 300 children are under compulsory school age and 2,300 are young people above compulsory school age.

Elective home educated

Data was collected on elective home education specifically for the first time in 2020. The data for 2022 shows an increase of 12% to 4,100, but the percentage of all EHC plans has remained stable (under 1%). 

New EHC plans

The number of new EHC plans has continued to increase

62,200 new EHC plans were made during 2021, an increase of 2,100 (3%) when compared against 2020. This follows an increase of 11% from 2019 to 2020. 

This is the highest number of new EHC plans in a year, following increases each year since their introduction in 2014.

Almost half of new plans continue to be for ages 5 to 10

46% of new plans were made for those in this age group. This is similar to previous years. Age 11 to 15 continues to be the next highest group at around a quarter of new plans. This has been the second highest group since 2017, when it overtook the under 5 age group. 

New plans for those aged 20 to 25 made up just 0.3% of all new plans, down from 0.4% in 2020 and continuing a decline from a high of 2.2% in 2017. 

Provision in mainstream schools continues to increase

Provision in mainstream schools has increased to 73% of new plans made during 2021. Special schools accounted for 14% of new plans, continuing the decline seen in recent years.

Requests and assessments

A parent or guardian can ask their local authority to carry out an assessment if they think their child needs an EHC plan. A young person can request an assessment themselves if they’re aged 16 to 25. A request can also be made by anyone else who thinks an assessment may be necessary, including doctors, health visitors, teachers, parents and family friends.

The number of initial requests for assessment highest since data collection started

There were 93,300 initial requests made for assessment for an EHC plan during 2021, up from 76,000 in 2020 and the highest number since data was first collected in 2016. Of those, 20,800 (22.3%) were refused, a small increase from 2020.

Once a request for assessment has been approved, an assessment is undertaken and a decision on whether or not to issue a plan is made.

The number of assessments completed during the calendar year increased

Assessments completed increased from 63,200 in 2020 to 66,100 in 2021, an increase of 5%. Of these, 62,200 (94%) resulted in a plan being issued, with 3,900 assessments (6%) where it was decided not to issue an EHC plan.

The map below shows the percentages for initial requests refused, assessments that resulted in a plan and assessments where a decision was made not to issue a plan, for each local authority for the 2019 to 2021 calendar years.

Timeliness - EHC plans issued within 20 weeks

EHC plans issued within 20 weeks has increased

The whole process of EHC needs assessment and EHC plan development, from the point when an assessment is requested (or a child or young person is brought to the local authority’s attention) until any final EHC plan is issued, must take no more than 20 weeks. The relevant legislation provides for exceptions to the time limits in certain situations.

Of the new EHC plans made during the 2021 calendar year (excluding cases where exceptions apply), 59.9% were issued within the 20 week time limit. This is an increase from 2020 when 58.0% of new plans were issued within the time limit.

The following map shows the rate of EHC plans (excluding exceptions) issued within 20 weeks by local authority.

Mediations and tribunals

Mediations increased in 2021 following a period of stability

Following the assessment of needs of a child or young person, if the local authority decides not to issue an EHC plan, or if parents/carers disagree with the educational provision set out in the EHC plan, they would be able to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. They then decide whether they want to go to mediation or proceed to the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability), part of the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber within the First-tier Tribunal. 

Mediation cases are defined as the number of mediation meetings that have occurred, regardless of whether the case then went to Tribunal. A mediation meeting is one in which the mediator, parents/carers or young person and the Local Authority met to discuss the case. 

More information about the Tribunal can be found at: www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-specialeducational-needs-and-disability

Statistics covering the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics

During 2021 calendar year 5,100 mediation cases were held, an increase of nearly 1,000 cases from 2020. Of these, 1,300 (26%) were followed by appeals to the tribunal. This is a small decrease from 27% in 2020.

Some mediation cases in 2021 calendar year could have been followed by appeal to the tribunal in 2022, which would not have been recorded in this collection.

Personal Budgets

Proportion of personal budgets in place for EHC plans remains steady

An optional personal budget is an amount of money identified by the local authority to deliver provision set out in an EHC plan where the parent or young person is involved in securing that provision. See the SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 for further information on personal budgets. 

There were 25,300 personal budgets in place for EHC plans issued or reviewed during 2021, an increase from 22,200 in 2020. This represents 5.3% of all EHC plans, up from 5.2% in 2020 and 2019.

Personal budgets in place that have direct payments for social care make up 78% of personal budgets. 

User feedback

We would like to know more about our users and would encourage and welcome any feedback on how the data is used. Comments on any issues relating to this publication are also welcomed and encouraged. If you would like to be involved in future user engagement consultations then please do get in touch. 

Please email us at: sen.statistics@education.gov.uk

Help and support

Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics

National statistics

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Designation signifying their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Once designated as National Statistics it's a statutory requirement for statistics to follow and comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics to be observed.

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

Contact us

Ask questions and provide feedback

If you have a specific enquiry about Education, health and care plans statistics and data:

School Census Statistics team

Email
sen.statistics@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Special Educational Needs statistics lead
0370 000 2288

Press office

If you have a media enquiry:

Telephone
020 7783 8300

Public enquiries

If you have a general enquiry about the Department for Education (DfE) or education:

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037 0000 2288