Published on: 17 Sep 2015

15.4% of pupils have an identified SEN (1.3 million pupils)

Special Educational Needs Statistics 2015

Lorraine Petersen, SEN Consultant and former Chief Executive of nasen

Each year the Department for Education produces Statistical First Release information on SEN in England. This information is based on the data collected from schools through the January 2015 census.

2015 was the first year of the major changes to SEND legislation and this was reflected in the SEND statistics that were released. 

Special Educational Needs in England: January 2015

The January census data collected from schools gives a much wider view of all pupils with SEN:

  • 15.4% of pupils have an identified SEN (1.3 million pupils)
  • 2.8% of pupils have a statement or EHC Plan (236,165 pupils)
  • 27.7% primary pupils had a primary need of speech, language and communication
  • 24.9% of secondary pupils had moderate learning difficulty as their primary need

When reflecting on these figures we need to take into consideration the SEND reforms but there are some interesting aspects that we might consider.

  • The proportion of pupils with a statement/ EHC Plans has remained at 2.8% since 2007. As we move forward it will be interesting to see if this figure does change. An increase might reflect that more children 0-5 and more young people 16 – 25 may get an EHC Plan but it might also reflect an increase in the number of pupils with very complex needs who will also require much more support through an EHC Plan. A decrease might indicate that schools are able to support more pupils without an EHC Plan or local authorities are not issuing EHC Plans following an EHC Needs Assessment.
  • There has been a significant (2.5%) decline in the number of pupils identified as having SEN without a statement or EHC Plan. This is the category now called SEN Support (replacing School Action and School Action +). This number has seen a steady decline over the last five years - 2010 (18.3%) to 2015 (12.6%). The significant decline in 2015 reflects the work that SENCOs have undertaken to ensure that all those pupils on SEN Support are those receiving educational provision that is different and/or additional to that offered to their peers.
  • The other significant change is the increase in the number of secondary pupils with moderate learning difficulties as their primary need. This reflects the change to the category behaviour, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) to emotional, social and mental health needs. In previous year BESD was always the primary need for secondary pupils. For many SENCOs this change has resulted in them having to re-categorise pupils who may have had behaviour as their primary need and had to be re-classified in regard to their learning need. Over time this will change as teachers and SENCOs get better at identifying the underlying needs of their pupils. It is interesting to note that in primary schools, the primary need is speech, language and communication needs.

The data collected in January 2016 will give us a much clearer indication of the impact of the SEND reforms – watch this space!

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