The number of statements of special educational needs (SEN) and Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans continues to grow, according to a new statistical release from the UK’s Department for Education (DfE).
The release, published at the end of May, shows that there were 175,233 children and young people with statutory EHC plans and 112,057 children and young people with statements of special educational needs (SEN) maintained by local authorities in England as at January 2017. This gives a combined total of 287,290, an increase of 30,975 (12.1 per cent) from 256,315 as at January 2016.
The combined number of children and young people with statements and EHC plans in England has increased each year since 2010. There were 36,094 children and young people with new EHC plans made during the 2016 calendar year and 59,545 children and young people transferred from statements to EHC plans.
Children and young people receiving provision in mainstream schools accounted for the largest percentage of children and young people on roll at an establishment with EHC plans — 73,435 or 43.1 per cent — and for combined statements and EHC plans —124,987 or 44.8 per cent — as at January 2017. However, children and young people receiving provision in special schools accounted for the largest percentage of children and young people with statements — 56,380 or 51.9 per cent.
There were 37,751 children and young people assessed and a decision was taken whether or not to issue an EHC plan during the 2016 calendar year. Of these, 36,094 (95.6 per cent) had new EHC plans made during the 2016 calendar year. A further 10,654 children and young people were either still being assessed, or had completed the assessment but a decision had not yet been made whether to issue an EHC plan as at January 2017.
There were 14,795 initial requests for an assessment for an EHC plan that were refused during the 2016 calendar year, an increase of 3,860 (35.3%) from the 2015 calendar year.
By January 2017, 59,545 (32.7 per cent) of the 182,106 children and young people with statements as at January 2016 had transferred to EHC plans. Over the same period 1,824 children and young people with statements were assessed and a decision was made not to issue an EHC plan.
Under the Children and Families Act 2014, which came in force in September 2014, all statements should be replaced by EHC plans by 31 March 2018.
Responding to the release Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA) said:
The deadline to transfer all statements to EHC Plans is April 2018. Between January 2016 and January 2017 32.7 per cent of statements had transferred to EHC Plans. This suggests local authorities (LAs) are behind in implementing transition into the new system. With less than a year left IPSEA are concerned that LAs simply do not have the resources to complete transitions of the remaining statements. This is likely to result in transition assessments being rushed and inadequate, which may lead to children and young people missing out.