Person level collection
From 2023, data has been collected in the person level return. This is a major change in data collection process and brings a unique set of data quality risks.
Feedback from local authorities suggest that data quality in 2023 may have been affected to a number of issues, including:
- Lack of data availability at person level
- Difficulty in transposing data, and matching data, from multiple sources and/or systems to a single data return
- Changes in recording methodology to adapt to more detailed definitions
For 2023, a number of mitigations were allowed to assist local authorities with completing the data return. This included:
- making new data items voluntary
- allowing broader categories (such as primary or secondary) to be returned instead of a specific school/establishment identifier
Data on establishment types has been collected in a new way from 2023. Previously, a defined list of options were available to local authorities. From 2023, the Unique Record Number (URN) or UK Provider Reference Number (UKPRN) were recorded. Where these were not applicable, a list of options were available. Where possible, these identifiers have been mapped using either Get Information About Schools or the UK Register of Learning Providers, to obtain an establishment type.
Data was previously collected on the number of children and young people who were awaiting provision. Users have reported that this category has caused confusion as a wide range of children and young people could be included in this category, ranging from children not in any education, to those currently attending a mainstream school and awaiting provision in a special school. We have changed the way we collect this data to give greater clarity and consistency about what is included compared to previous years. This includes the introduction of categories for not in education, including specifically identifying those of compulsory age, and also those who have had a notice to cease their EHC plan issued.
Improving data quality
The department expect data quality to improve over time as the move to person-level improves the consistency and comprehensiveness of data returned to the department. The data published in the first 2023 release replicates the majority of metrics published in previous year’s releases.
From 2015 onwards, the scope of the SEN2 return increased to collect information on EHC plans for the first time following their introduction in September 2014. Systems and processes may have been bedding in during this period. There is anecdotal evidence that local authorities were prioritising the transformation to the new system in different ways. Potential differences in planning and prioritising need to be considered when interpreting the data.
Local Data Issues
Dorset - Figures for the number of new EHC plans issue within 20 weeks excluding exceptions are not available for Dorset in the 2021 calendar year. As such both the number including exceptions and excluding exceptions are the same.
Local Data Issues
No local authority specific data issues have been raised at the time of publication.
The four categories introduced in 2019 have been further extended in to 6 categories. The driver for this change is to enable the separation of those children who are compulsory school age and below in to two categories for below compulsory school age and compulsory school age only.
Local Data Issues
Warrington - The breakdown of establishment types for those for whom the authority maintained an EHCP for on 16th January 2020 should have been:
- Mainstream school – LA Maintained: 239 (previously reported as 262)
- Mainstream School – LA Maintained (SEN Unit): 44 (previously reported as 34)
- Mainstream School – LA Maintained (Resourced Provision): 13 (previously reported as 0)
- Mainstream School - Academy: 329 (previously reported as 207)
- Mainstream School - Academy (SEN Unit): 88 (previously reported as 155)
- Mainstream School - Academy (Resourced Provision): 26 (previously reported as 81)
The breakdown for all other establishment types remain unchanged.
Statements of SEN
Although the deadline for conversion of statements of SEN to EHC plans was 31 March 2018, a small number of plans are known to have remained at January 2019. These represent exceptional circumstances where the child or young person (or parents of) and the local authority have agreed that the transfer process is not in the best interests of those involved. The department are aware of these cases and the statements of SEN remain legally binding. Local authorities were requested to count these cases in the overall totals for EHC plans from 2019.
Prior to 2019, the following categories were available for those who do not currently have an establishment type listed on their EHC plan.
- pupils permanently excluded at [census date] and not yet placed elsewhere
- other - arrangements made by the LA in accordance with Section 319 of the Education Act 1996 or Section 61 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (This covers secure accommodation and young offenders institutions)
- other - arrangements made by parents in accordance with Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 (This covers home educated children)
- Awaiting provision – final statement/EHC plan issued but awaiting placement
Significant interest in the category for awaiting provision raised the following key questions
- Can we identify the number of children who are not in education?
- Can we identify how many of these children/young people are under/over compulsory school age?
As a result, this category has been broken down in to the following four new categories for the 2019 collection.
- Awaiting provision – children of compulsory school age (aged under 16) or below who are in a school and have been issued an EHC plan but are awaiting placement in another school
- Awaiting Provision – young people over compulsory school age who are in an education setting and have been issued an EHC plan but are awaiting placement in another setting
- Awaiting provision – children of compulsory school age (aged under 16) or below who are not in school and have been issued an EHC plan but are awaiting placement in an education setting
- Awaiting Provision – young people over compulsory school age who are not in an education setting and have been issued an EHC plan but are awaiting placement in a setting
We are aware from discussions with LAs that there were a significant number of NEETs recorded within the ‘awaiting provision’ category up to and including the 2017 data collection. In these cases, rather than being issued with a plan and waiting for provision to be assigned, the young person has typically held an EHC plan prior but has left education or training and the LA is continuing to engage with that person for a further outcome. A new category has been added from 2019 to record the number of these cases.
A further category has been added for ‘other’ establishment types not otherwise covered. During the data collection period, we have been made aware that this includes a number of children and young people who have been issued with a notice to cease and also children below compulsory school age who are not yet in an education setting.
Local data issues
No local authority specific data issues have been raised at the time of publication.
Statements for those aged 20-25
A child with a statement includes any person for whom a statement has been issued who has not attained the age of 19 and is a registered pupil at a school. Therefore, there should be no young person with a statement who is aged 19 or over at 31 August 2017. 9 A small number of local authorities are known to have young people aged 20-25 with statements, whom were in the process of or awaiting transfer from a statement to an EHC plan. However, there was not an option on the SEN2 return to record young people with statements as attending these establishment types. Therefore, local authorities were advised to report these cases as young people with EHC plans. This also applies to the 2016 and 2017 data collections.
Statements at Post 16 establishment types
Prior to September 2014, children and young people with statements at school were eligible to receive an LDA when they moved to general further education, sixth form college, specialist post 16 institutions or other further education. Local authorities were advised to prioritise the transfers from statements to EHC plans for young people in their final year at school, as statements are not legally binding in these establishments and LDAs would be discontinued. A small number of local authorities are known to have young people at post 16 establishments with statements, while waiting to transfer from a statement to an EHC plan. However, there was not an option on the SEN2 return to record young people with statements as attending these establishment types. Therefore, local authorities were advised to report these cases as young people with EHC plans. This also applies to the 2016 and 2017 data collections.
Discontinued statements and plans (compulsory school age)
There is a known undercount in the data item “Discontinued statements and plans (compulsory school age)” for a small number of local authorities. This only affects cases where a child has had their EHC plan discontinued in the calendar year, where the plan was previously a statement and had been transferred from a statement to an EHC plan using a specific review system. Across all local authorities and all EHC plans, there were 2,740 EHC plans discontinued in total during the 2016 calendar year. Some affected local authorities are known to have manually corrected the undercount. This issue also affects the 2017 collection.
Local data issues
Northumberland - The local authority notified the department of an error in June 2018. This was post publication and Department policy is to not update published tables retrospectively based on updates to underlying data. The number of new plans issued in the 2017 calendar year should have been 283 (published figure = 34) of which 259 (published = 34) were issued within 20 weeks (91.5%, published = 100%). 10 The breakdown of where children were educated in turn was affected, the main discrepancies being: LA Mainstream School - 33.6% (published = 14.7); Mainstream School Academy 19.43% (published = 8.8); and Special School LA Maintained 23.67% (published = 5.9). The number of initial requests for plans was 416 (published = 65).
Essex local authority have highlighted that the following figures provided for 2017 calendar year were incorrectly reported to the department. The correct figures are reported below.
- Number of initial requests for assessment for an EHC plan that were refused during the 2017 calendar year: 665 (previously reported as 14)
- Number of children and young people assessed and decision taken whether or not to issue an EHC plan during the 2017 calendar year: 985 (previously reported as 1,730)
- Children and young people assessed during the 2017 calendar year for whom it was decided not to issue an EHC plan: 19 (previously reported as 706)
Bristol local authority notified the department of an error in July 2018.
- The number of initial requests that were made for assessment for an EHC plan during the 2017 calendar year should have been 427 (published figure = 442).
- The number of initial requests for assessment for an EHC plan that were refused during the 2017 calendar year should have been 189 (published figure = 29)
Apprenticeships, traineeships or supported internships
The number of children and young people with statements or EHC plans who are undertaking apprenticeships, traineeships or supported internships was collected on a mandatory basis for the first time in the 2017 collection, having previously been voluntary in the 2016 collection. However, a small number of local authorities failed to return data in the 2017 collection. As a result, where a local authority has left this section of the collection blank for statements and EHC plans, we have reported as ‘..’. If local authorities have recorded zero this is published as “0”. It is possible that in some cases local authorities may also have entered zero if the number is not known.
Local authorities requested support regarding how to record children and young people who attend secure units, young offenders institutions or accessing education in prison. Local authorities were advised to record these young people as accessing ‘other arrangements made by local authority’. 11 Some local authorities have told us that young people who are not in employment, education or training have been entered in either ‘other arrangements made by local authorities’, or ‘awaiting provision’.
Local data issues
Birmingham local authority failed to include statements currently being transitioned to EHC plans where an EHC needs assessment had been initiated, but the final plan was not yet issued. Estimates provided by Birmingham suggesting that this has resulted in and undercount of 1,168 statements maintained by Birmingham local authority as at 19th January 2017. This impacts upon the number of statements presented for 2017 in Tables 1, 3 and 5.
Cases currently being assessed
Item 2.4 asks: ‘Please state the number of children and young people assessed for an EHC plan during the 2015 calendar year who are still being assessed or where assessment has been completed by 21 January 2016 but no decision taken for an EHC plan’. We are aware that a number of local authorities have included cases where a decision has been made to issue an EHC plan but this had not been issued by the census date.\
Local authorities requested support regarding how to record children and young people who attend secure units, young offenders institutions or accessing education in prison. Local authorities were advised to record these young people as accessing ‘other arrangements made by local authority’.
There is no category for children and young people attending resourced provision or SEN units in mainstream academies. Local authorities have been advised to record these cases under ‘mainstream academies.’ The establishment type selection has been amended for the 2017 collection to include SEN units and resourced provisions in mainstream academies.
Some local authorities have told us that young people who are not in employment, education or training have been entered in either ‘other arrangements made by local authorities’, or ‘awaiting provision’.
Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs) – Experimental Statistics
Experimental statistics are defined in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics as ‘new official statistics undergoing evaluation. They are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in their development and as a means to build in quality at an early stage.’ For more information on experimental statistics, please visit the UK statistics authority website.
The data published for the number of LDAs and percentages linked to this data have been published as experimental statistics in 2016. This is a result of several data quality issues highlighted since the 2015 publication. Generally LDAs are not maintained by local authorities in the same way as statements or EHC plans. Many local authorities report outside agencies will maintain and keep records of LDAs, whereas statements and EHC plans are maintained and recorded by all local authorities. This means that local authorities do not always have accurate records available for the number of LDAs in place.
Before using the LDA data, the following should be considered:
- This year, a small number of local authorities have reported providing incorrect figures for the 2015 collection, therefore direct comparisons with 2016 LDA data cannot be made.
- This year, some local authorities have reported more LDAs in place on 15th January 2015, than they reported were in place at 31st August 2014 in the 2015 collection. We have been told by some local authorities that this is due to improvements in data collection methods since the 2015 collection leading to more LDAs being identified.
- Local authorities had a duty under section 139 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 to arrange for an LDA for all persons in respect of whom they maintain a statement, and who they expect to leave school at 16-19 to receive post-16 education, training or higher education. They had discretion to make LDAs for others. It is possible that some of the discretionary LDAs that were made are for children or young people with SEN who will not meet the criteria for an EHC plan.
Personal Budgets - Experimental Statistics
The number of personal budgets has been reported as experimental statistics for the 2016 publication. This is due to data quality issues for this item.
There are a number of local authorities who have reported having a small number of personal budgets but a large number of direct payments. Discussions with some local authorities have led us to believe that some local authorities may have misinterpreted the question and reported direct payments issued by social care and not from personal budgets outlined in the young person’s EHC plan. The total number of direct payments from personal budgets outlined in EHC plans is therefore likely to be an overestimate.
Post 16 establishment types
Prior to September 2014, children and young people with statements at school were eligible to receive an LDA when they moved to general further education, sixth form college, specialist post 16 institutions or other further education. Local authorities were advised to prioritise the transfers from statements to EHC plans for young people in their final year at school, as statements are not legally binding in these establishments and LDAs would be discontinued. A small number of local authorities are known to have young people at these establishments with statements, while waiting to transfer from a statement to an EHC plan. There was not an option on the SEN2 return to record young people with statements as attending these establishment types. A number of local authorities are known to have recorded these young people under ‘educated elsewhere’. A small number of local authorities are known to have reported these cases as young people with an EHC plan, and one local authority is known not to have included these young people in their return.
Statements and EHC plans issued within the timescales
There are certain circumstances when it is legitimate for local authorities not to record the timescales for both statements and EHC plans. This means that the total number of new statements or EHC plans used to calculate the percentages in Table 8 and Table 9 can be different to the total number of new statements or EHC plans in Table 2. We would expect any differences to be small. Circumstances when local authorities are permitted not to record the timescales are given in the SEN2 guide. These may include, following mediation or, a tribunal or reconsideration of the original decision not to issue, or a transfer between local authorities.
In Section 1.6 of the 2016 SEN2 guide, details were given on how to record cases that started as an assessment for a statement but resulted in an EHC plan. In these cases the EHC plan is considered a new EHC plan. However, when it comes to recording the timescales for these plans, the timescales and exceptions apply as for statements under the Education Act 1996 (26 week limit). Local authorities were advised to record these cases as having met the time limit for an EHC plan if they had met the time limit for a statement.
Transfers from statements or LDAs to EHC plans
A small number of local authorities had missing data for this section. The missing data items are recorded as ‘..’ and where data is available, it has been included in the regional and national totals.
In cases where the number of statements transferred is not available, the number of statements in place at 15 January 2015 has been removed when calculating the percentage of statements transferred to EHC plans in both the national and regional totals.
In cases where the number of LDAs transferred is not available, the number of LDAs in place at 15 January 2015 has been removed when calculating the percentage of LDAs transferred to EHC plans in both the national and regional figures.
Local data issues
Cases where local authorities have not submitted a data item, or have told us they reported 0 as the actual figure is not known, have been published as ‘..’ in the main tables. A small number of local authorities have reported issues regarding their data return which are listed below:
- Wandsworth local authority told us their figure for statements ending because they have left school at the end of compulsory schooling or after reported in table 7 is likely to be an underestimate of the actual figure.
- Lancashire local authority was only able to provide a combined number of statements and EHC plans discontinued at the end of compulsory schooling or after. All cases have been published as statements, so the national total of statements discontinued at the end of compulsory schooling reported in table 2 may be slightly greater than the actual total, and the total number for EHC plans may be slightly lower than the actual figure.
- Lancashire local authority has not been able to provide data for the number of statements or EHC plans issued excluding exceptions or the number transferred within the time limit. This has been recorded as ‘..’ in table 8 and 9 to represent data not available. The number of statements and EHC plans issued including and excluding exceptions for this local authority has been removed from the national and regional figures. As a result these totals are likely to be an underestimate of the actual figure.
- A small number of local authorities have told us that they have not been able to provide the number of LDAs at 15th January 2015. Two local authorities have not been able to provide the number of LDAs transferred to EHC plans. One local authority has not been able to provide the number of statements transferred to EHC plans. In cases where data is missing, ‘..’ has been reported in table 10. Local authorities with incomplete data have been removed from the percentage transferred calculation for regional and national level data.
- The number of mediation and tribunal cases has only been collected for six months by Lancashire local authority. Figure published in table 11 is for six months and therefore it’s possible that the national and regional total is a slight underestimate of the actual total.
- Hertfordshire local authority was not able to provide the number of mediation cases that went onto tribunal. This has been reported as ‘..’ in table 11. This data has been removed from the national and regional percentage calculation in this section.
- Cumbria local authority has informed us that due to the way data is extracted on their system, it has not been able to provide the number of children with statements and EHC plans in resourced provision in mainstream schools. These children have been included in the ‘maintained mainstream school’ figure. This means that the national figure for the number of children in resourced provision in maintained mainstream schools is likely to be a slight underestimate of the actual figure.
- Birmingham local authority stated that their data systems are currently under review and to meet requirements some manual counts have been necessary.
The Department for Education funded twenty ‘pathfinders’, covering 31 local authority areas and associated clinical commissioning groups (see annex A for the full list), to test the provisions set out in what was the Children and Families Bill.
Pathfinder local authorities will have issued non-statutory EHC plans before 1 September 2014 and these plans are not included in the figures. These non-statutory EHC plans do not have the same duties and rights associated with them as an EHC plan issued on or after 1 September 2014 and local authorities will need to undertake EHC needs assessments to transfer them to statutory EHC plans. While some may be suitable to be transferred to statutory EHC plans without significant changes, others may require further work to comply with the 2014 Act and related Regulations.
Some children and young people who have been issued with non-statutory EHC plans before 1 September 2014 also have statements. If a statement was issued alongside a non-statutory EHC plan, the statement should have been counted as a statement. If a pathfinder area counted a non-statutory EHC plan as a new statement in an SEN2 return and reissues the EHC plan on a statutory basis this is recorded as a transfer from a statement to avoid double counting.
Only statutory EHC plans (i.e. EHC plans issued on or after 1 September 2014) are counted in the 2015 and 2016 SEN2 data return. However, local authorities were advised to count non-statutory EHC plans as statements in the 2014 SEN2 return. As a result, some pathfinder local authorities could have large differences between 2014 and 2015 data. This should be taken into consideration when making year on year comparisons.
Issues in the 2015 SEN2 return guide
In 2015 we were aware that for item 2.3 and 2.4, some local authorities may have counted some or all of the transfers from statements or LDAs. The wording in the guide was amended to ensure we only collected this data for new statements or EHC plans in 2016.
We were also aware that for items 5.1 (a) and 5.1 (b) some local authorities may have reported those transfers in progress rather than those where a decision has been made not to issue a plan. The wording in the guide was amended to ensure we only collected this data for those where a decision has been made not to issue an EHC plan in 2016.