Reporting Year 2020

Outcomes for children in need, including children looked after by local authorities in England

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  1. Small number of corrections/updates made to headlines, special educational needs and children who have been in need in the last 6 years commentary

This statistical release provides a range of outcome measures at national and level authority level for children in need (CIN), including children looked after (CLA) by local authorities in England. 

The outcome measures cover:

  • special education needs
  • educational attainment (at key stage 4)
  • destinations from school
  • absence from school
  • permanent exclusions and suspensions from school
  • free school meal eligibility
  • type of school attended

Key stage 4 data is also published at national level for previously looked after children (Official Statistics).

This is a new statistical release which incorporates changes to the annual Outcomes for children looked after by LAs statistical release and outcomes within the Characteristics of children in need statistical release, proposed by the department in September 2020. Improving these statistics was a commitment made at the end of the CIN review. As part of the review of the National Statistics, an ad-hoc release was published (Outcomes of children in need including looked after children) and the department asked users to submit feedback on the proposals (Children in need and looked after children statistics: proposed changes).

The changes aim to improve the consistency of definitions and the range of children reported on. For example, the annual statistics previously did not report outcomes on the whole CIN group and only reported on children looked after for at least twelve months at 31 March, whereas this release includes the outcomes of all CIN, including breakdowns for those on child protection plans and those looked after for less than 12 months at 31 March.


Headline facts and figures - 2020

The latest figures relate to the reporting year ending 31 March 2020 for children in social care:

  • Pupils in the social care groups were much more likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than the overall pupil population. For all children in need (CIN) at 31 March, almost half had a special educational need compared to 15% of the overall pupil population.
  • Half of all CIN at 31 March 2020 were eligible for free school meals. This compares to 17% for all pupils.
  • Children in the social care groups perform less well than their peers across all key stage 4 measures. The higher prevalence of SEN amongst looked after children (CLA) and children in need in part explains the difference in attainment compared to all pupils.
  • The persistent absence rate for CLA continuously for at least twelve months at 31 March was 12.5% in the Autumn 2019 term, which was lower than the rate for all pupils (13.4%). However, as with overall absence, this rate was higher for the other key social care groups.
  • One in 10 pupils in 2019/20 have been a child in need in the last 6 years.

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