The information collected in the SEN2 return is the only source of data on all education health and care (EHC) plans maintained by individual local authorities, and up to 2019, statements of special educational needs (SEN).
The SEN2 return is mandatory for all local authorities and collects data on children with statements of SEN, or EHC plans. Up to and including the 2022 publication, data was collected at a local authority aggregate level, i.e. a single figure per data item for the local authority. From 2023, a person level data collection was introduced, collecting data on each request for assessment and decision to assess in the calendar year and on details of each active plan at the census date each year. Further details on the SEN2 collection can be found at the SEN2 collection webpage.
This release includes data from the annual SEN2 data return. Prior to 2015, SEN2 data was published as part of the Special Educational Needs in England publication alongside data from the school census. From 2015, the SEN2 data has been published in a separate publication to the school census data. SEN data from the school census data is published in the Special Educational Needs in England publication.
SEND reforms - September 2014
In September 2014, the special educational needs and disability (SEND) reforms came into effect as part of the Children and Families Act 2014. From 1 September 2014, any children or young people who are newly referred to a local authority for assessment are considered under the new EHC plan assessment process. The legal test of when a child or young person requires an EHC plan remains the same as that for a statement under the Education Act 1996. The time limit for completing EHC plans is 20 weeks. This is shorter than the previous time limit of 26 weeks for statements. Local authorities were expected to review all statements and transfer to EHC plans by 31st March 2019.
Children and young people with a learning difficulty assessment (LDA) could request an assessment for an EHC plan. Local authorities were expected to review all LDAs and transfer to EHC plans by 31st August 2016, the date upon which LDAs ceased to have a legal effect. However, this deadline was later relaxed until 31st December 2016. The purpose of this extension was to allow some flexibility for EFA funding to safeguard high needs provision.
As part of the SEND reforms, local authorities should ensure there is a Designated Medical/Clinical Officer (DMO/DCO) to support the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) in meeting its statutory responsibilities for children and young people with SEN and disabilities, primarily by providing a point of contact for local partners, when notifying parents and local authorities about children and young people they believe have, or may have, SEN or a disability, and when seeking advice on SEN or disabilities. See the SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 for more detailed information on the SEND reforms.