Pupils with special educational needs (SEN) are currently classified as follows:
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. SEN support replaced the former School Action and School Action Plus categories from 2015.
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. The period for local authorities to transfer children and young people with statements of SEN to EHC plans started in September 2014 and ended in 2018. Following the introduction of EHC plans in September 2014, statements of SEN and EHC plans were grouped together within the data.
Guidance on how independent schools are advised to record pupils with special educational needs is available in section 2.5 of the School level annual school census.
The number and percentage of pupils with SEN has continued to rise
The percentage of pupils with an EHC plan has increased to 4.0% in 2022, continuing a trend of increases since 2016. Prior to this, the rate had remained steady at 2.8%. This is in line with local authority data on the number of EHC plans.
The percentage of pupils with SEN support has increased, from 12.2% to 12.6%, continuing an increasing trend from 2016.
Number of pupils with an EHC plan has increased 50% since 2016
The number of pupils with an EHC plan has increased by 9% between 2021 and 2022, and by a total of 50% since 2016. The number of pupils with SEN support has increased by 4% to 1,129,800 since 2021 and by a total of 14% since 2016. Between 2016 and 2022 the total pupil population increased by 5%.
Pupils with an EHC plan made up almost one quarter (24%) of all pupils with SEN in January 2022.
Local authority data on EHC plans is published in the Education, Health and Care plans publication. The data covers all children and young pupil up to age 25 with EHC plans, and includes those not captured in this publication in non-maintained early years provision, further education, home education or not in education, employment or training.
The number of pupils with an EHC plan has increased across all school types except state-funded nursery
- In primary, 2.3% of pupils have an EHC plan and 13.0% have SEN support
- In secondary, 2.2% of pupils have an EHC plan and 11.9% have SEN support
- In pupil referral units (PRUs), 28.2% have an EHC plan and 54.0% have SEN support
The largest increase in EHC plans was in primary, with an additional 10,200 pupils with plans since 2021.
The percentage of pupils with an EHC plan in PRUs has continued to increase, from 24.0% to 28.2%, this is driven by both an increase in the number of plans and by a decrease in the overall population in PRUs.
The percentage of pupils with an EHC plan who are in mainstream schools (state-funded primary and secondary) has increased from 50.4% to 51.4% in 2022. Although the number of pupils in special schools has increased, the percentage of pupils with an EHC plan attending state-funded special schools has dropped from 40.6% to 39.4%. These trends continue patterns seen since 2018.