Reporting Year 2020

Education, health and care plans

Published

This publication provides data on the number of children and young people with a statement of special educational needs (SEN) or education, health and care (EHC) plan in England. The publication also provides data on the administration of statements of SEN and EHC plans.

Data is presented for both the caseload as at January 2020, for example number of EHC plans, and for activity during the 2019 calendar year, for example number of new EHC plans in the calendar year.


Headline facts and figures - 2020

The total number of EHC plans has continued to increase

There were 390,100 children and young people with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans maintained by local authorities as at January 2020. This is an increase of 36,100 (10%) from 2019. The total number of children and young people with statements of special educational needs (SEN) or EHC plans has increased each year since 2010.

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

There were 53,900 children and young people with new EHC plans made during the 2019 calendar year. This is an increase of 10% compared to 2018. The number of new EHC plans has increased each year since their introduction in 2014.

The proportion of new plans issued within 20 weeks has remained stable

In 2019, 60.4% of new EHC plans were issued within 20 weeks. This shows a small increase from 2018, when 60.1% of new EHC plans were issued within the 20 week time limit.

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Education, Health and Care plans

The number of EHC plans has continued to increase

There were 390,100 children and young people with statutory Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans maintained by local authorities as at January 2020. This is an increase of 36,100 (10%) from 354,000 children and young people with an EHC plan as at January 2019.

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 account for the largest percentage of EHC plans

Children aged 11-15 years old account for the largest percentage of children and young people with EHC plans (35%) as at January 2020. This is followed by those aged 5-10 years old (33%)

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 16-19 years old has subsequently increased year on year over the period from January 2014 (10%) to January 2018 (22%) before stabilising in recent years (January 2020, 21%). The percentage of young people aged 20-25 has similarly increased since the introduction of EHC plans in 2014, rising to 6% of all plans in 2020.

 

Percentage of EHC plans in further education continues to increase

Whilst the number of children and young people across all establishment types has increased, the proportions of young people with EHC plans receiving provision in mainstream and special schools have seen small decreases. This is a result of the increase in EHC plans issued to those 16 years old and above and consequently the use of further education (from 16% to 17% of all EHC plans).

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. 12,700 children and young people were recorded under one of these categories in January 2020 (shown as ‘educated elsewhere’ in the table above and broken down in further detail below). 

A further 8,100 young people were recorded as not in education, employment or training (NEET) and a further 2,300 children and young people (1%) 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 of employment) and those where the decision is currently subject to an appeal. This is the second year for which data for NEET and Other are available. 

Awaiting Provision 

New data was collected on the number of those awaiting provision since 2019. 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. 

Due to changes in the data collection, comparisons to previous years are not advised. For example, this is the first year for which figures for those under compulsory school age are available. Further, figures up to and including 2017 are known to also include those not in employment, education or training (NEET). 

Of those awaiting provision, 1,260 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 179 children are under compulsory school age and 1,790 are young people above compulsory school age.

New EHC plans

The number of new EHC plans has continued to increase

There were 53,900 children and young people with new EHC plans made during the 2019 calendar year, an increase of 5,000 (10%) when compared against 2018.

Almost half of new plans are for children aged 5 to 10

47% of new plans are made for those aged 5 to 10. A further 25% of new plans were made for those aged 11 to 15 and 23% for those under five. 

Since the introduction of EHC plans, the 16 to 19 age group had previously seen an increase from 1% of new plans (or statements) in 2014 to a peak of 6% in 2017. This has dropped slightly since and was 5% in 2019. Only 1% of new plans were made for those aged 20 to 25.

Two-thirds of new plans were made for children and young people in mainstream education

Children and young people receiving provision in mainstream schools accounted for 68% of EHC plans made for the first time in the 2019 calendar year. 19% of plans were made for children and young people receiving provision in special schools.

Assessment process

The number of initial requests for assessment has increased

There were 82,300 initial requests made for assessment for an EHC plan during the 2019 calendar year, an increase of 14% since 2018. Of those initial requests made for assessment for an EHC plan, 18,800 (23%) were refused. This compares to 17,900 (25%) in 2018. 

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

94% of assessments completed resulted in an EHC plan

There were 57,300 children and young people assessed with a decision taken whether or not to issue an EHC plan during the 2019 calendar year. Of these, 53,900 (94%) had new EHC plans made during the 2019 calendar year, a small decrease from 95% in 2018. A further 3,400 were assessed and it was decided not to issue a plan.

Timeliness - EHC plans issued within time limits

60% of EHC plans issued within 20 weeks

The SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years states that 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 the final EHC plan is issued, must take no more than 20 weeks. This is a shorter time limit than the 26 weeks previously given for the completion of statements of SEN. The special education needs and disability regulations allow for exceptions to the time limits in certain cases.

Of the new EHC plans made during the 2019 calendar year (excluding cases where exceptions apply), 60.4% were issued within the 20 week time limit, a small increase from 60.1% in 2018. When including cases where exceptions apply, 58.7% were issued within the 20 week time limit, an increase from 58.0% in 2018. 

Select chart below to see an interactive map showing the percentage of EHC plans excluding exceptions issued within 20 weeks, by local authority

Mediation and appeals to tribunal

A quarter of mediation cases held were followed by appeals to tribunal 

Following the assessment of needs of a child or young person, if the local authority decides not to issue an EHC plan, or if parent/carers disagree with the educational provision set out in the EHC plan, they would be able to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. Parents and young people who are thinking of appealing to the Tribunal have the option to contact a mediation adviser. Data is collected on the number of times this occurs as “mediation cases”. 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. 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

There were 4,100 mediation cases held during the 2019 calendar year. Of these mediation cases, 1,000 (25%) were followed by appeals to the tribunal during the 2019 calendar year. This is a small decrease on 2018 when 26% of mediation cases were followed by appeals 

Some mediation cases in the 2019 calendar year could have been followed by appeal to the tribunal in 2020, which would not have been recorded in this collection.

Personal Budgets

Number of personal budgets in place for EHC plans increasing

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 20,300 personal budgets in place for EHC plans issued or reviewed during the 2019 calendar year, an increase from 15,700 in 2018. This represents 5.2% of all EHC plans.

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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

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

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