Record increase in children receiving specialist SEN support

There has been a record increase in the number of children receiving additional support for special educational needs (SEN), with the figure rising by more than 30,000 in a single year.

Figures published by the Department for Education show that at the end of January a total of 287,290 children had a statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care (EHC) plan in place, an increase of 30,975 or 12.08 per cent on the figure for January 2016 of 256,315.

It is the biggest increase in the past seven years. The increase between 2015 and 2016 was the previous high, when the number rose from 240,183 to 256,315 - an increase of 16,132, or 6.72 per cent.

In 2016 there were an estimated 1.2 million children with SEN but without a statement of SEN.

Under government plans, all children with existing SEN statements must be assessed and transferred from the old system onto new education, health and care (EHC) plans by April 2018. But there are fears that councils will struggle to be ready in time.

The statistics show that between January 2016 and January 2017, a total of 59,545 children and young people transferred from SEN statements to EHC plans. This is equivalent to 32.7 per cent of the children and young people with statements that were in place as at January 2016.

Meanwhile, 36,094 new EHC plans made during the 2016 calendar year.

The total number of children and young people with EHC plans now stands at 175,233.

As of January there were still 112,057 children and young people with SEN statements.

The statistics also show that 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 per cent) from the 2015 calendar year.

Earlier this year children's minister Edward Timpson announced £40m in government funding as part of efforts to get all children with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) transferred onto the new system by the April 2018 deadline.

The figure for 2017/18 represents a £4.2m increase on the £35.8m councils received in 2016/17.

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