Related to: Education Absence and Exclusion, Education Attainment, Learning Disabilities, Ill Health and Disability, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Key Facts:

  • The Children and Families Act 2014 brought in a new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system and introduced two new levels of support: (i) Education and Health Care (EHC) plans (replacing Statements of SEN); and (ii) SEN Support (replacing SEN School Action Plus and SEN School Action).
  • As at January 2016 there were 3,571 SEND pupils in B&NES state-funded primary, secondary and special schools - 835 with a Statement of SEN or EHC plan, and 2,736 receiving SEN Support.
  • As at January 2016 there were 895 children and young people normally resident in B&NES with a Statement or EHC plan.
  • 2.2% of the resident 0-19 population in B&NES had a Statement or EHC plan as at January 2016.  This compares to 2.0% for England.
  • Males are 2.5 times more likely than females to have a Statement or EHC plan.
  • During 2015 there was a significant increase in the rate of new EHC plans being issued, particularly among children in Reception and Year 1 National Curriculum Years.
  • Within B&NES there are three Special Schools that provide education for pupils with a Statement or EHC plan.  These three schools are currently at capacity (2015/16).
  • As at January 2016 there were 60 children and young people with a Statement or EHC plan placed in Independent Schools or non-maintained Special Schools, this represents an increase from 45 only the year before (i.e. an additional 15).  There has also been an increase in the number of B&NES residents attending state-funded special schools outside of B&NES - up from 14 in January 2015 to 28 in January 2016.
  • There has been an increase in recent years in the number of children in Early Years settings who meet the eligibility thresholds for Inclusion Support Funding (ISF).
  • Due to an increasing local population this increase in the number of children and young people with a Statement or EHC plan in B&NES is likely to continue, at least in the short- to medium-term.

Background

The Children and Families Act 20141provided for an overhaul of the system for identifying children and young people in England with Special Educational Needs (SEN), assessing their needs and making provision for them.

Under the new system:

  • SEN Support replaced School Action and School Action Plus in schools and Early Years Action and Early Years Action Plus in Early Years settings, such as nurseries and childminders; and
  • Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans replaced Statements of SEN and Learning Disability Assessments (LDAs).  An EHC plan is for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through SEN Support.  These children and young people will be going through a process referred to as 'transition' which involves changing from their statements and LDAs to EHC plans within the new legal framework.  Completing the transition process is a duty on the Local Authority (“LA”) where the child or young person lives.  The LA must have completed this process for children with statements by 1st April 2018.

The revised new SEND Code of Practice came into force on 1st April 2015.2

This revised SEND Code of Practice set out four areas of Special Educational Need (SEN):

  1. Communicating and interacting – for example, where children and young people have speech, language and communication difficulties which make it difficult for them to make sense of language or to understand how to communicate effectively and appropriately with others.
  2. Cognition and learning – for example, where children and young people learn at a slower pace than others their age, have difficulty in understanding parts of the curriculum, have difficulties with organisation and memory skills, or have a specific difficulty affecting one particular part of their learning performance such as in literacy or numeracy.
  3. Social, emotional and mental health difficulties – for example, where children and young people have difficulty in managing their relationships with other people, are withdrawn, or if they behave in ways that may hinder their and other children’s learning or that have an impact on their health and wellbeing.
  4. Sensory and/or physical needs – for example, children and young people with visual and/or hearing impairments, or a physical need that means they must have additional ongoing support and equipment.

Some children and young people may have SEN that covers more than one of these areas.

It is important to note that the definition of SEN has not changed under the new system.

Many children and young people who have SEN may also have a disability.  A disability is described in law (the Equality Act 20103) as ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term (a year or more) and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.’  This includes, for example, sensory impairments such as those that affect sight and hearing, and long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.

While some children who have SEN may also have a disability, not all children with SEN are defined as disabled under the Equality Act 2010.  Likewise, not all children who are defined as disabled will have SEN.  For example, pupils with severe asthma, arthritis or diabetes may not have special educational needs but will have rights under the Equality Act.

What does the data say?

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Statutory resident SEND cohort

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The statutory resident SEND cohort refers to those children and young people normally resident in B&NES who have a Statement of SEN, LDA or EHC plan (by 1st April 2018 all children and young people with a Statement or LDA must have transitioned to EHC plans).

As at 21st January 2016 there were 895 children and young people resident in B&NES with a Statement of SEN, LDA or EHC plan.4  This represents 2.2% of the resident 0-19 population in B&NES, compared to 2.0% in England.5.

SEND9 gender

Figure 1: SEND Statement/EHC plan cohort by gender, B&NES, Snapshot at January 20166

Figure 1 shows that the majority of the SEND Statement/EHC plan cohort in January 2016 were male - 642 of the 895, or 72%.  The remaining 253 were female, or 28%.

SEND10 gender and age group

Figure 2: SEND Statement/EHC plan cohort by academic age group and gender, B&NES, Snapshot at January 20167

[Note: ages have been calculated as at 31st August 2015, i.e. academic age.  5-10 year olds equates to primary cohort during 2015/16, while 11-15 year olds equates to secondary cohort during 2015/16].

Figure 2 illustrates how this gender breakdown is split by academic age group - showing 2.5 times more boys than girls aged 5-10, and 2.7 times more boys than girls aged 11-15.

In terms of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME), as at January 2016, 13% of the SEND Statement/EHC plan cohort in B&NES were cassified as non-White British, while the other 87% were classified White British (3.7% of the cohort had an unknown BME).8

The electoral wards with the highest numbers and rates of resident children and young people with a SEND Statement/EHC plan in B&NES include Southdown, Redfield, Radstock, Twerton and Keynsham North wards.9

SEND numbers

Figure 3: SEND Statement/EHC plan numbers, B&NES, Snapshot at January 2006 to January 201610

Figure 3 illustrates that B&NES's latest count of its SEND cohort as at January 2016 is at least at an 11 year high, having increased by 147 since January 2015 (Figure 4).

SEND components of change

Figure 4: Number of SEND Statements/EHC plans in-flows and out-flows, B&NES, 2012-201511

Figure 4 illustrates that this increase is, at least in large part, due to Statements/EHC plans not being discontinued under the new system when young people leave school – down from 73 during 2014, to only 15 during 2015.  Figure 4 also illustrates that there has been an increase in the numbers of EHC plans being made for the first time – up from 99 during 2014, to 140 during 2015.  Finally, although relatively small in number, there has also been a rise in the net number of people moving into B&NES with an existing Statement/EHC plan – 22 during 2015 (Figure 4).

Even though there has been an increase in the number of children and young people with a Statement or EHC plan in recent years, there has also been an increase in the local Population.

SEND prevalance rates

Figure 5: NORMALISED rate per 1,000 residential population of children and young people aged 0-19 who are subject to a Statement or EHC plan, Jan 2010 to Jan 2016, B&NES12

[Note: rates have been normalised in January 2016 to assume that 61 school leavers would have had their Statement/EHC plan discontinued, i.e. same methodology adopted during the period January 2010 to January 2015].

Figure 5 illustrates that there has been a statistically significant increase in the prevalence rate of children and young people with a Statement or EHC plan in B&NES as at January 2016 (19.7 per 1,000 population 0-19 year olds) compared to the period January 2010 to January 2013.

SEND incidence rates by age

Figure 6: Rate per 1,000 residential population of children and young people aged 0-19 who are subject to a NEW Statement or EHC plan, 2009-2015, B&NES13

This increase in overall prevalence of children and young people with a Statement or an EHC plan in B&NES can largely be explained by a statistically significant increase in the incidence rate of 5-10 year olds with new EHC plans during 2015, compared to new Statements during 2011 (Figure 6).  Looking at the data tells us that this increase has largely come from new EHC plans being issued to children aged four to six, i.e. in Reception (4/5 year olds) and Year 1 (5/6 year olds).

Figure 7: Rate per 1,000 population aged 0-19 of NEW Statements/EHC plans, 2009 to 2015, LAs in the South West and England14

Figure 7 illustrates that this recent increase in the rate of new EHC plans being issued during 2015 is not unique to B&NES – South Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Torbay have all witnessed similar increases during 2015.  For example, B&NES has been identifying a greater number of young children in Early Years setting who are eligible for Inclusion Support Funding (ISF) – Figure 8.

[Note: Inclusion Support Funding is a process which allocates funding to an early years provider, primarily to enable children aged two years and over with SEND to achieve better outcomes.  It allows an early years provider to increase their staffing ratios within the environment in order to increase the capacity of the child’s Key Person or, in some cases and where appropriate, to purchase other services.  The maximum amount of hours that will be funded is 15 hours per week (term time only) over a total period of 38 weeks.  This is in line with a child’s free early education entitlement (EYE)].15

ISF numbers

Figure 8: Number of children aged 2-4 in B&NES receiving Early Years Inclusion Support Funding (ISF), 2012/13 to 2015/16 (financial year)16

In conclusion, not only are more young children being identified / diagnosed with a SEND in Early Years settings in B&NES, but there also appears to be an increasing number of families moving into B&NES – it is believed largely as a result of recently completed new housing.

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B&NES School On-Roll SEND Cohort

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As at January 2016 there were 3,571 pupils in B&NES’s state-funded primary, secondary and special schools identified with a Special Educational Need or Disability (SEND).  SEND pupils represented around 1 in 7 (13.8%) of the school on-roll cohort in B&NES (slightly lower than the comparable figure for England – 14.3%).17

SEND Pupil numbers in schools

Figure 9: Numbers of SEND pupils on-roll in B&NES’s state-funded primary, secondary and special schools by category of support, 2009/10 to 2015/16 academic years (as at Spring School Census) 18

SEND Pupil % in schools

Figure 10: Percentages of SEND pupils on-roll in B&NES’s state-funded primary, secondary and special schools by category of support, 2009/10 to 2015/16 academic years (as at Spring School Census) 19

Figures 9 and 10 illustrate that the number of proportion of SEND pupils in B&NES’s state funded primary, secondary and special schools has fallen since the introduction of new reforms came into force in 2015 (see above).  This overall reduction is entirely explained by a drop in the number of pupils now classified as SEN Support (which replaced School Action Plus and School Action in 2014/15) in state-funded primary and secondary schools in B&NES.

In view of the rise in the number of statutory B&NES resident SEND cohort (Figure 3), it is no surprise that there has also been a rise in the number and proportion of pupils with a Statement or EHC plan in B&NES state-funded primary, secondary and special schools – up from 710 (2.9%) in the 2009/10 academic year, to 835 (3.2%) in the 2015/16 academic year (Figures 9 and 10).

SEND Broad Need Types

Figure 11: Statemented/EHC Plan and SEN Support pupils on-roll in B&NES State-Funded Primary, Secondary and Special Schools by Broad Primary Need Type, January 201620

Figure 11 illustrates the breakdown by broad primary need type (described above) of Statemented/EHC Plan and SEN Support pupils on-roll in B&NES state-funded primary, secondary and special schools as at January 2016.  The largest category of need is ‘cognition and learning’ – accounting for 42% of all SEND pupils in B&NES’s state-funded primary, secondary and special schools.  In B&NES’s state-funded special schools this percentage rises to 62%, and accounts for half of all SEND pupils in B&NES’s state-funded secondary schools.

Around 1 in 3 (29%) SEND pupils in B&NES’s state-funded primary, secondary and special schools have a primary need classified as ‘communication and interaction’ (Figure 11).  SEND pupils with a 'communication and interaction’ classified primary need in B&NES’s state-funded special schools almost exclusively (99%) have a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (the other 1% were classified with ‘speech, language and communication’ difficulties).  In state-funded primary and secondary schools in B&NES, ASD accounts for 19% and 42% respectively of those with a primary need classified as ‘communication and interaction’ (the other 81% and 58% respectively were classified with ‘speech, language and communication’ difficulties). 21

Seventeen percent of SEND pupils in B&NES’s state-funded primary, secondary and special schools have a primary need classified as ‘social, emotional and mental health’ (Figure 11).  Four percent have ‘sensory and/or physical needs’ (Figure 11).

Are we meeting the needs?

Of the 895 children and young people resident in B&NES with a Statement of SEN, LDA or EHC plan as at January 2016 (Figure 3), 774 (86%) were either in state-funded special schools, or in state-funded mainstream schools (including SEN Units in mainstream schools, Academies and Free Schools).  Figure 12 shows a breakdown of the number of children and young people resident in B&NES with a Statement or EHC plan in state-funded mainstream schools and special schools from 2011/12 to 2015/16.

SEND2 Returns_schools

Figure 12: Number of B&NES funded Statement/EHC plan children and young people in state funded schools (including academies and free schools), 2011/12 to 2015/16 academic years22

The number attending state-funded mainstream or special schools between January 2015 and January 2016 increased by 78 - up from 696 to 774 (Figure 12).  However, there were 140 new first-time EHC plans made during 2015 (Figure 4).  At the time of carrying out this analysis B&NES’s three state-funded Special Schools – Three Ways School, Foss Way School and Aspire Academy – were at capacity.  This appears to be having two immediate effects: (i) more B&NES residents are having to attend state-funded special schools outside of B&NES (up from 14 in January 2015 to 28 in January 2016);23 and (ii) more children and young people with a Statement or EHC plan normally resident in B&NES being placed in often more costly Alternative Provision, i.e. Independent Schools or non-maintained Special Schools (Figure 13).

SEND AP Census

Figure 13: Number of B&NES's Statement/EHC plan children and young people in 'Alternative Provision', 2011/12 to 2015/1624

Figure 13 illustrates the recent rise in children and young people with a Statement or EHC plan normally resident in B&NES being placed in Independent Schools or non-maintained Special Schools – from 45 in 2014/15 to 60 in 2015/16.  This increase is having budget implications for B&NES as these places tend to be more costly than placements in state-funded schools.  It is also likely that this increase will continue, at least in the short- to medium-term.

There also appears to be more children and young people with a Statement of SEN or EHC plan who are normally resident in B&NES attending schools