Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) are currently classified as follows:
From 2015, the School Action and School Action Plus categories have combined to form one category of SEN support. Extra or different help is given from that provided as part of the school’s usual curriculum. The class teacher and special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) may receive advice or support from outside specialists. The pupil does not have an education, health and care plan.
Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans and statements of SEN
A pupil has an EHC plan when a formal assessment has been made. A document is in place that sets out the child’s need and the extra help they should receive. Prior to September 2014, a statement of SEN was used. Following the introduction of EHC plans in September 2014, statements of SEN and EHC plans are grouped together within the data. The transfer of statements of SEN to EHC plans was due to be completed in March 2018, and in December 2018, there were less than 100 statements of SEN nationally.
The number and percentage of pupils with EHC plans and on SEN support has risen
Across all schools, the number of pupils with an EHC plan has increased by 8.7%, from 271,200 to 294,800 in January 2020. This represents 3.3% of all pupils, an increase from 3.1% last year. This continues the trend of increases seen from 2018, after remaining steady at 2.8% of the total pupil population from 2007 to 2017.
The number of pupils with SEN support has also increased, by 3.0% to 1,079,000 in January 2020. This represents 12.1% of all pupils, an increase from 11.9% in 2019.
This gives a total of 1,373,800 pupils with SEN, or 15.5% of all pupils. This has increased from 14.9% in 2019.
The number of pupils with SEN has increased across all school types
- 1.8% of pupils in state-funded primary schools have an EHC plan in January 2020, compared to 1.6% in 2019, while 12.8% have SEN support, up from 12.6% last year. Overall, pupils in primary schools make up 49.9% of all SEN pupils, down from 50.8% in 2019.
- The same percentage, 1.8%, of pupils in state-funded secondary schools have an EHC plan in January 2020, an increase from 1.7% in 2019. 11.1% of pupils have SEN support, an increase from 10.8% in 2019. Overall, pupils in secondary schools with SEN account for 32.0% of all pupils with SEN, up from 31.4% in 2019.
- There has been a large increase in the percentage of pupils in pupil referral units with an EHC plan, up from 13.4% to 16.4%. There has been an increase in the number of pupils with an EHC plan also, while the overall pupil population in pupil referral units has decreased. Conversely, there has been a decrease in those with SEN support in pupil referral units, from 67.6% to 64.9%. This includes pupil referral units, academy and free school alternative provisions.
The number of pupils in special schools has risen
- Almost all children in special schools have an EHC plan (97.9%). The number of pupils in state-funded special schools has increased by 6,400 (5.3%) to 128,100, continuing a trend seen since 2006. The number of pupils in non-maintained special schools has also increased, by 100 (3.2%) to just under 3,800.
- 9.3% of all pupils with SEN are attending state-funded special schools, excluding general hospital schools, and a further 0.3% of all pupils with SEN are attending non-maintained special schools. This is a small increase on 2019, when 9.1% of all pupils with SEN were attending state-funded special schools, and the same percentage, 0.3%, were attending non-maintained special schools.
The percentage of pupils with SEN in independent schools has risen
- The percentage of pupils with an EHC plan in independent schools has risen to 3.3%, the same as the percentage of all pupils over all schools. The percentage of pupils with SEN but without an EHC plan (similar to SEN support) has risen to 13.7% in 2020, from 12.7% in 2019