Reporting year 2022

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

This is the latest data
UK statistics authority quality mark
Published
Next update
Last updated
See all updates (5) for Reporting year 2022
  1. Updating feature table on local authority Absence to display all local authority data

  2. Symbols in national absence, and suspensions and permanent exclusions data updated. CINO definition updated.

  3. Local authority feature tables have been added and the methodology document has been updated to reflect the 2022 publication.

  4. Local Authority data files for SEN, Absence, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 have been added to the publication

  5. Local Authority data files for SEN, Absence, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 will be published shortly

Release type

Introduction

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

The outcome measures cover:

  • special educational needs
  • educational attainment (Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4) and progress (Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4)
  • destinations from school
  • absence from school
  • suspensions and permanent exclusions from school
  • free school meal eligibility
  • type of school attended

Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 data is also published at national level for children who were previously looked after who left care through an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order (Official Statistics).

Changes to this year's publication include the addition of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 attainment measures and Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 progress measures following a pause due to the pandemic.

This year we have updated our suppression symbols. More details on this can be found in the methodology that accompanies this publication.


Headline facts and figures - 2022

Average Attainment 8

20.2

for CIN at 31 March

What is this?

The 2021/22 average Attainment 8 score for children in need at 31 March 2022.

Sustained destination

75%

for CIN at 31 March

What is this?

The percentage of children in need at 31 March 2020 who were at the end of Key Stage 4 in 2019/20 and were in sustained education, employment & apprenticeships in 2020/21.

Persistent absentees

43.8%

for CIN at 31 March

What is this?

The percentage of children in need at 31 March 2022 who were persistently absent from school in the 2021/22 academic year.

Average Attainment 8

20.3

for CLA 12 months at 31 March

What is this?

The 2021/22 average Attainment 8 score for children looked after continuously for at least 12 months at 31 March 2022.

Sustained destination

80%

for CLA 12 months at 31 March

What is this?

The percentage of children looked after continuously for at least twelve months at 31 March 2020 who were at the end of Key Stage 4 in 2019/20 and were in sustained education, employment & apprenticeships in 2020/21.

Persistent absentees

19.1%

for CLA 12 months at 31 March

What is this?

The percentage of children looked after continuously for at least 12 months at 31 March 2022 who were persistently absent from school in the 2021/22 academic year.

The latest facts and figures relate to the reporting year ending 31 March 2022 for children in social care:

  • Pupils in all social care groups were over twice as likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than the overall pupil population. For all children in need (CIN), almost half had SEN compared to 16% of the overall pupil population.
  • 58% of CIN were eligible for free school meals. This compares to 23% for all pupils.
  • Children in each of the key social care groups were roughly half as likely to achieve the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics at Key Stage 2 compared to the overall pupil population.
  • Children in the key social care groups perform less well than their peers across all Key Stage 4 measures (with their overall average Attainment 8 score being broadly less than half of that of the overall pupil population). Children with SEN have been recorded to have lower average attainment compared to the overall population. As such, the higher prevalence of SEN amongst looked after children (CLA) and CIN in part explains the difference in attainment compared to all pupils.
  • As is the case for the overall pupil population, for most of the key social care groups, Asian or Asian British children (including Chinese children) have the highest average Attainment 8 scores. The exception to this is CLA for at least 12 months, where Black, African, Caribbean or Black British have the highest average score.
  • The percentage of persistent absentees for CLA for at least 12 months was 19%, which was lower than the percentage for the overall pupil population (23%). However, as with overall absence, this rate was higher for the other key social care groups.
  • Nearly one in 10 pupils in 2021/22 have been a child in need in the last 6 years.

Explore data and files used in this release

  • View or create your own tables

    View tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from open data using our table tool

  • Data catalogue

    Browse and download open data files from this release in our data catalogue

  • Data guidance

    Learn more about the data files used in this release using our online guidance

  • Download all data (ZIP)

    Download all data available in this release as a compressed ZIP file

Social care groups

Summary

The social care groups cover children in need (CIN), children on a child protection plan (CPP) and children looked after (CLA) by local authorities in England.  Where appropriate, an ‘all pupils comparison’ from the relevant national statistics is included for each outcome. 

Detailed information on the social care groups and the all pupils comparisons is provided in the methodology document.

Abbreviations of social care group names used throughout this release 

  • CIN - children in need.
  • CINO - children in need, excluding children on a child protection plan and children looked after. This includes children on child in need plans as well as other types of plan or arrangements. It also includes children awaiting a referral to be considered, an assessment to start or, for an assessment which has started, for the assessment to be completed.
  • CPPO - children on a child protection plan, excluding children looked after.
  • CLA - children looked after (excludes children who are in respite care in their most recent episode during the reporting year).

Social care groups included in the commentary (referred to as key social care groups):

  • CIN at 31 March
  • CINO at 31 March
  • CPPO at 31 March
  • CLA 12 months at 31 March - CLA continuously for at least twelve months at 31 March.
  • CLA less than 12 months at 31 March - CLA continuously for less than twelve months at 31 March

Social care groups included in both national and local authority level data:

  • CINO at 31 March
  • CPPO at 31 March (where numbers are large enough).
  • CLA 12 months at 31 March (excluding free school meals at both national and local authority level)

Social care groups included in national level data only:

  • All pupils comparison - from the national publications.
  • CIN at 31 March
  • CLA less than 12 months at 31 March
  • CIN at any point - ‘any point’ means at any point during the reporting year (including at 31 March).
  • CINO at any point
  • CPPO at any point
  • CLA at any point
  • Ever CIN - last 6 years - children in need, at any point in the last 6 reporting years (including at 31 March).

Other groups

At Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 there are additional groups in the national level data for children with previously looked after arrangements (PLAA). These are Official Statistics on arrangements for previously looked after children.

  • PLAA - Adoption - previously looked after children who left care through an adoption.
  • PLAA - SGO - previously looked after children who left care through a special guardianship order (SGO).
  • PLAA - CAO - previously looked after children who left care through a child arrangements order (CAO).
  • PLAA - Total - previously looked after children who left care through an adoption, SGO or CAO.

Special educational needs

All references to the key social care groups in this section relate to the time point as at 31 March.

Pupils in all social care groups were over twice as likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than the overall pupil population. They were over two and a half times more likely to have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan than the overall pupil population and nearly twice as likely to have SEN support.

Of all the social care groups, CLA for at least 12 months had the highest proportion of children with SEN (57.4%) compared to CPPO (39.2%), which had the lowest proportion. 16.3% of all pupils had SEN.

The percentage of pupils with SEN across the social care groups has remained broadly stable in recent years though rising slightly for some groups over the latest year. More notably the proportion of CLA for at least 12 months with a statement or EHC plan has risen by 4 percentage points to 30.2% over the six years covered in this data.

It is important to consider these differences when viewing the educational outcomes data for children belonging to all the social care groups.

Primary type of special education need

For all the key social care groups, among pupils with SEN support, the most common type of primary need (for over a third for each social care group) was social, emotional and mental health. The most common type of need among the overall pupil population is speech, language and communications needs.

Social, emotional and mental health was also the most common type of need among pupils with an EHC plan for CPPO and for all looked after children social care groups. Autism spectrum disorder was the most common type of need for both CIN social care groups and for the overall pupil population. For all children looked after groups, these two types of primary need accounted for at least 61% of pupils with an EHC plan.

Key Stage 1 attainment

All references to specific years for the key social care groups in this section relate to the time point as at 31 March.

The 2021/22 academic year saw the return of the teacher assessments at Key Stage 1 after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently the first results since the 2018/19 academic year.

Pupils are assessed in reading, writing, mathematics and science in year 2, at the end of Key Stage 1. Pupils are required to take tests in reading and mathematics at the end of Key Stage 1, however teacher assessment is the only data used and reported by the Department for Education.

For more information see the Key Stage 1 and phonics screen check attainment statistical release.

Summary

Pupils in the key social care groups perform less well than the overall pupil population across all Key Stage 1 measures. However, children looked after and children in need are more likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than the overall pupil population. Pupils with SEN have been recorded to have lower attainment compared to the overall population. As such, the higher prevalence of SEN amongst children looked after and children in need accounts for part of the difference in attainment compared to the overall pupil population.

Expected standard

Teacher assessments are based on a broad range of evidence from across the curriculum and knowledge of how a pupil has performed over time and in a variety of contexts.

Changes to the 2018/19 reading, mathematics and science teacher assessment frameworks and the 2017/18 writing teacher assessment frameworks mean judgements made in these subjects are not directly comparable to previous years.

The percentage of pupils in each of the key social care groups who achieved the expected standard across all subjects at Key Stage 1 in 2021/22 is lower than in 2018/19. A similar pattern was seen for all pupils across all subjects at the end of Key Stage 1.

Pupils in the key social care groups are less likely to have achieved the expected standard than the overall pupil population for all subjects at Key Stage 1.

CLA for at least 12 months had the highest percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard for all social care groups across all subjects. CPPO had the lowest percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard for all subjects.

Pupils from all social care groups were more likely to reach the expected standard at Key Stage 1 in science and least likely to reach the expected standard in writing.

Key Stage 2 attainment and progress

All references to specific years for the key social care groups in this section relate to the time point as at 31 March.

The 2021/22 academic year saw the return of the tests and teacher assessments at Key Stage 2 following the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 assessment during the pandemic. This is the first publication of Key Stage 2 statistics for children in social care since 2019.

Pupils take national curriculum assessment in year 6, at the end of Key Stage 2, when most pupils will reach age 11 by the end of the academic year. Pupils take tests in reading, mathematics, and grammar, punctuation and spelling, and receive a teacher assessment in writing and science. The combined reading, writing and mathematics measure uses the results of the reading and mathematics tests and the outcome of the writing teacher assessment.

For more information see the Key Stage 2 attainment statistical release,

Summary

Pupils in the key social care groups perform less well than the overall pupils population across all Key Stage 2 measures. However, children looked after and children in need are more likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than the overall pupil population. Pupils with SEN have been recorded to have lower attainment and progress outcomes compared to the overall population. As such, the higher prevalence of SEN amongst children looked after and children in need accounts for part of the difference in attainment and progress compared to the overall pupil population.

Expected standard

For each test or teacher assessment, the number of pupils reaching the expected standard is the sum of all pupils with the following results:

  • For the reading, mathematics and grammar, punctuation and spelling tests: achieved the expected standard or met the higher standard.
  • For the writing teacher assessment: working at the expected standard or working at a greater depth.
  • For the science teacher assessment: working at the expected standard.

Pupils in the key social care groups are less likely to have achieved the expected standard than the overall pupil population for all subjects at Key Stage 2. Attainment in reading is broadly similar to than in 2018/19 for all CIN groups but the proportion of CLA achieving the expected standard has slightly increased. The percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard in all other subjects has decreased for all key social care groups since 2019. Attainment in writing is not directly comparable to years prior to 2018 due to changes in writing teacher assessment frameworks that year.

CLA for at least 12 months had the highest percentage of pupils achieving the expected standard across all subjects in 2022. CINO  had the lowest proportion of pupils achieving the expected standard for all subjects.

Pupils in all social care groups were roughly half as likely to reach the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics (combined) compared to the overall pupil population.

Average progress scores

Progress measures aim to capture the progress than pupils make from the end of Key Stage 1 to the end of primary school education. Progress scores are calculated for individual pupils separately for each of reading, writing and mathematics. Pupils who do not have Key Stage 1 data for these subjects do not have progress scores.

Progress scores are a value added measure which means that a pupil's results can be compared to the results of other pupils nationally with similar prior attainment. They are a relative measure, therefore the national average scores for all pupils are very close to zero for each subject. They can be used to compare the progress of different pupil characteristics.

The average progress score for each subject is lower for all key social care groups than for the overall pupil population. CLA for at least 12 months have the highest and CINO have the lowest average progress scores of all social care groups for all subjects.

Key Stage 4 attainment and progress

All references to specific years for the key social care groups in this section relate to the time point as at 31 March.

The 2021/22 academic year saw the return of the summer examination series, after they had been cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, where alternative processes were set up to award grades (centre assessment grades, known as CAGs, and teacher assessed grades, known as TAGs).

The changes to the way GCSE grades were awarded over these two years mean 2021/22 pupil attainment data should not be directly compared to pupil attainment data from previous years for the purposes of measuring year on year changes in pupil performance. As part of the transition back to the summer examination series adaptations were made to the examinations (including advance information) and the approach to grading for 2022 examinations broadly reflected a midpoint between results in 2019 and 2021. 

For more information see the Key Stage 4 performance statistics release for the academic year 2021/22.

Summary

Pupils in the key social care groups perform less well than their peers across all Key Stage 4 measures. However, children looked after and children in need reaching the end of Key Stage 4 are much more likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than the overall pupil population. Pupils with SEN have been recorded to have lower average attainment compared to the overall population. As such, the higher prevalence of SEN amongst children looked after and children in need accounts for part of the difference in attainment compared to the overall pupil population.

Attainment 8

Attainment 8 measures the average achievement of pupils in up to 8 qualifications. This includes: English (double weighted if both English language and English literature are sat); mathematics (double weighted); three further qualifications that count in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc); and three further qualifications that can be GCSE qualifications (including EBacc subjects) or any other non-GCSE qualification on the DfE approved list.

From 2018, for pupils who take GCSEs only, Attainment 8 had a maximum point score of 90, compared to a maximum of 87 in 2017 and 80 in 2016. This is a consequence of the phased introduction of reformed GCSEs graded on the 9-1 scale. These differences should be considered when comparing Attainment 8 scores before 2019.

The average Attainment 8 score has decreased slightly for all pupils and across all the key social care groups compared to 2020/21 but increased in comparison with 2018/19. This is generally what we would expect given Ofqual's approach to grading for 2022 which broadly reflected a midpoint between results in 2019 and 2021.

As in previous years, the average Attainment 8 scores in 2021/22 for all the key social care groups were broadly less than half that compared to the overall pupil population. The attainment of pupils across most of the key social care groups was broadly similar, with the exception of lower attainment for CLA for less than 12 months.

Attainment 8 by SEN

Children in the key social care groups perform less well than their peers across all Key Stage 4 measures. However, looked after children and children in need reaching the end of Key Stage 4 are much more likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than all children. Children with SEN have been recorded to have lower average attainment compared to the overall population. So, whilst many factors are involved, this accounts for part of the difference between the overall pupil population and looked after children and children in need. This is demonstrated by the general reduction in the difference between the key social care groups and the overall pupil population average Attainment 8 scores when looking at the individual SEN categories, including no identified SEN.

Attainment 8 by ethnicity

As is the case for the overall pupil population, for most of the key social care groups, Asian or Asian British children (including Chinese children) have the highest average Attainment 8 scores. The exception to this is CLA for at least 12 months, where Black, African, Caribbean or Black British have the highest average score. In the overall population, and for pupils in CIN and CPPO groups, White pupils have the lowest average score, but for CLA, pupils from other ethnic groups have the lowest average score.

Attainment in English and mathematics (grades 5 or above)

This measure looks at the percentage of pupils achieving grade 5 or above in both English and mathematics GCSEs. To count for this measure a pupil would have to achieve a grade 5 or above in either English literature or English language. There is no requirement to sit both.

The percentage of pupils achieving grade 5 or above in both English and mathematics GCSEs has decreased slightly across all the key social care groups with the exception of CLA for less than 12 months since 2020/21 but these comparisons should be treated with caution due to the cancellation of the examination season in 2021. The percentage of pupils from all social care groups achieving this standard has increased compared to 2018/19 when the previous GCSE examinations were taken.

The attainment of pupils across most of the key social care groups was broadly similar, with the exception of lower attainment for CLA for less than 12 months. CINO at 31 March were slightly more likely to have achieved a grade 5 or above in both English and mathematics GCSEs (13.1%) than other key social care groups, including CLA for at least 12 months (11.0%).

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) entry

The EBacc shows how many pupils are taking GCSEs (or AS level qualifications) in core academic subjects at Key Stage 4. The EBacc consists of English, mathematics, science, a language, and history or geography. To count in the EBacc, qualifications must be on the English Baccalaureate list of qualifications.

In 2020, this measure was less likely to have been affected by the cancellation of examinations as schools will have taken most of their entry decisions ahead of the COVID-19 disruption.

The percentage of pupils entering the English Baccalaureate has remained broadly stable for both the overall pupil population and those in key social care groups, whilst increasing slightly for CLA for less than 12 months.

EBacc average point score (EBacc APS)

The EBacc APS measures pupils' point scores across the five pillars of the EBacc - English, mathematics, science, a language, and history or geography - with a zero for any missing pillars. This ensures the attainment of all pupils is recognised, not just those at particular grade boundaries, encouraging schools to enter pupils of all abilities, and support them to achieve their full potential.

For more information on these measures and their calculation methodology, see the secondary accountability guidance.

The EBacc average point score has decreased across all the key social care groups and the overall pupil population since 2020/21 but has increased across all groups since the previous GCSE examination season in 2018/19. All the key social care groups have an average point score much less than half that of the overall pupil population.

Progress 8

Progress 8 aims to capture the progress a pupil makes from the end of Key Stage 2 to the end of Key Stage 4. It compares pupils' achievement - their Attainment 8 score - with the national average Attainment 8 score of all pupils who had a similar starting point (or ‘prior attainment’), calculated using assessment results from the end of primary school. Progress 8 is a relative measure, therefore the national average Progress 8 score for all pupils is very close to zero. It can be used to compare the progress of different pupil characteristics.

A Progress 8 score of 1.0 means pupils in the group make on average approximately a grade more progress than the national average; a score of -0.5 means they make on average approximately half a grade less progress than average.

The average Progress 8 score is lower for all key social care groups than for the overall pupil population. CLA for at least 12 months perform better than children in other key social care groups and CLA for less than 12 months have the lowest average Progress 8 score of all social care groups.

Destinations

All references to specific years for the key social care groups in this section relate to the time point as at 31 March.

Key Stage 4 destination measures follow pupils who were at the end of Key Stage 4 study (GCSE and equivalent qualification) in 2019/20, and reports their destinations in the following academic year (2020/21). They show the percentage of pupils going to an education, apprenticeship or employment destination. To be counted in a destination, young people have to have sustained participation for a 6 month period in the destination year. Further details are provided in the methodology document that accompanies the Key Stage 4 destination measures statistical release.

Note that the percentages for the social care groups are much less than the overall pupil population figures published in the Key Stage 4 destination measures statistical release. However, it should be noted that the figures in this outcomes release include additional institutions, so they are not directly comparable. For example, other institutions include: independent schools, independent special schools and secure units.

The percentage of Key Stage 4 leavers in sustained education increased for all the key social care groups since 2019/20 and remained the most common destination. CLA for at least 12 months were the most likely to be in sustained education (76%), while CPPO were the least (58%). The proportions of those in sustained employment decreased or remained steady for all social care groups.

Between 2016/17 and 2019/20 the proportion of children in any of the CLA groups who were not in a sustained destination has seen the largest decrease compared with children in other social care groups. CPPO were almost twice as likely as CLA for at least 12 months to have no sustained destination.

Absence

All references to the key social care groups in this section relate to the time point as at 31 March.

With increased demand for statistics and data to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department for Education had to change its data gathering and release practices, focussing efforts on priority analysis and statistics.  Therefore, no absence data relating to the full 2019/20 academic year is available.

In 2020/21 and 2021/22, data was collected on the number of sessions recorded as not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Initially, this included where pupils were self-isolating and shielding, including when a class or bubble was required to stay at home. Additionally, for the majority of the Spring term 2020/21, only children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils could attend school. During these sessions, pupils were expected to not attend or were prohibited from attending and so they are treated separately and not counted within the standard absence rates within this publication. Where a pupil was not attending in these circumstances, schools were expected to provide immediate access to remote education.

In 2021/22, this category should mostly have been used to record where a pupil was absent from school with symptoms of COVID-19 whilst awaiting the results of a test. From April 2022, in line with our transition to living with COVID-19, schools were no longer advised to record pupils who did not attend for reasons related to COVID-19 using a separate code (Code X). This was in line with the fact that pupils with symptoms of COVID-19 were no longer advised to get a test, and most of the scenarios that this category was brought into to record no longer applied. Instead, where a pupil did not attend because they have symptoms of COVID-19 or had a positive test, schools were advised to record this using Code I (illness) unless another more appropriate code applied.

Due to the disruption during the 2020/21 and 2021/22 academic years, caution should be taken when comparing data to previous years. For more detailed information on this see Pupil absence in schools in England.

Overall absence

There has been an increase in the overall absence rate across all the key social care groups with the exception of CLA for at least 12 months since the 2020/21 academic year and across all groups since 2018/19. The increase is mostly driven by a large increase in illness absence, which includes absence for positive COVID cases that may have required isolation up to ten days.

Pupils in pupil referral units had higher overall absence rates than those in other school types for all key social care groups.

In 2021/22, all social care groups (apart from CLA) were over twice as likely to be absent than the overall pupil population. CPPO at 31 March had the highest overall absence rate of all of the social care groups.

Persistent absentees

Similarly, pupils in all social care groups were more likely to be persistent absentees than the overall pupil population with the exception of CLA for at least 12 months (19.1%). CPPO at 31 March had the highest proportion of pupils (56.2%) who were persistent absentees.

Pupils in pupil referral units were more likely to be persistent absentees in all the key social care groups.

Suspensions and permanent exclusions

All references to specific years for the key social care groups in this section relate to the time point as at 31 March.

Suspensions and permanent exclusions data is collected two terms in arrears, which means the latest available data is for the 2020/21 academic year.

The figures presented in this publication cover the 2020/21 academic year. Like the previous year, this academic year was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools were open to all pupils in the Autumn term, however during the Spring term schools were only open to key worker and vulnerable children from January for the first half term, before all pupils returned during the second half term. During this period online tuition was provided for pupils. Schools were then open to all pupils during the Summer term.

Data for all pupils are produced via a different methodology and so it is not appropriate to make precise comparisons with suspensions and exclusions figures for all pupils.

Suspensions

Pupils with one or more suspension refer to pupils that had at least one suspension across the full academic year.

The percentage of pupils with one or more suspension for pupils in the key social care groups was similar to 2019/20 and lower than pre-pandemic levels.

CLA for less than 12 months were the most likely to be suspended (12.43%) and CINO were the least likely (8.73%), which follows the same pattern as previous years.

Permanent exclusions

A permanent exclusion refers to a pupil who is excluded and will not come back to that school (unless the exclusion is overturned). This data only includes permanent exclusions which have been upheld by the governing body or Independent Review Panel (IRP), and not those which are still ongoing. The permanent exclusion percentage is calculated as the number of permanent exclusions divided by the number of pupils (x100).

The percentage of pupils across all key social care groups who were permanently excluded has declined since 2018/19. As a result, the permanent exclusion rates across all the key social care groups and the overall pupil population are at their lowest levels in the last five years. However, this was driven by restrictions on school attendance in place for parts of the year during 2019/20 and 2020/21, caused by the pandemic, as described above.

Patterns across the key social care groups remain similar to previous years. The percentage of pupils permanently excluded for CLA for at least 12 months was 0.03%, which was lower than the rate for the overall pupil population (0.05%). In comparison, CPPO had the highest permanent exclusion rate (0.55%) of any of the social care groups.

Free school meals

All references to specific years for the key social care groups in this section relate to the time point as at 31 March.

Children in state-funded schools in England are entitled to receive free school meals if a parent or carer was in receipt of certain benefits. More information on free school meal eligibility is provided in the department's Schools, pupils and their characteristics statistics publication.

In 2021/22, 75.5% of CPPO pupils and 57.8% of pupils who were CIN at 31 March were eligible for free school meals. This is more than 2.5 times higher than the proportion for the overall pupil population (22.6%).

Free school meal eligibility for the CIN social care groups increased for a fourth consecutive year in 2021/22, which is consistent with the rise seen for the overall pupil population. However, the increase between 2020/21 and 2021/22 is lower than that seen in the previous three years.

From April 2018 transitional protections were in place, which continued during the roll out of Universal Credit. These protections mean that pupils eligible for free school meals on or after 1 April 2018 retain their free school meals eligibility, even if their circumstances change. If a child was eligible for free school meals, they remained eligible until they finished their current phase of schooling (primary or secondary) in 2023. The introduction of transitional protections is the main reason for the increase in the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals seen in recent years, as pupils continue to become eligible, but fewer pupils stop being eligible.

Children who have been in need in the last 6 years

There were 879,000 pupils (in state-funded primary and secondary schools, special schools and pupil referral units) in 2022 that were known to have been in need in the last 6 years:

This is equivalent to nearly 1 in 10 pupils.

Over a third (38%) had a special educational need; more than twice the rate of all pupils (16%).

More than half (58%) were eligible for free school meals, compared to a fifth (23%) of all pupils.

Two fifths (40%) of compulsory school age children who have been in need in the last six years were persistently absent from school, which is almost twice the rate of all pupils (23%).

Less than a quarter (21%) achieved a grade 5 or above in GCSE English and mathematics, compared to nearly half (50%) of all pupils, while their average Attainment 8 score was 29.1 compared to 48.8 for all pupils.

Help and support

Methodology

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

National statistics

These accredited official statistics have been independently reviewed by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). They comply with the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Accredited official statistics are called National Statistics in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

Accreditation signifies 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

Our statistical practice is regulated by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR).

OSR sets the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics that all producers of official statistics should adhere to.

You are welcome to contact us directly with any comments about how we meet these standards. Alternatively, you can contact OSR by emailing regulation@statistics.gov.uk or via the OSR website.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about Outcomes for children in need, including children looked after by local authorities in England statistics and data:

Children Looked After Data Team

Email: CLA.STATS@education.gov.uk
Contact name: Bree Waine
Telephone: 0191 535 8968

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:

Telephone: 037 0000 2288

Opening times:
Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays)