Number of pupils attending special schools surges

2019-11-26

The number of pupils attending special schools has surged by more than 6% in the last year, new figures from the Department for Education show.


According to the latest tables, the significant rise in pupils attending SEND state schools in England comes despite the overall pupil population rising by just 1%.


The increase – recorded for a sixth consecutive year in England – was also considerably higher than in other parts of Great Britain.


In the 2018-2019 academic year, 139,500 pupils attended a special school in England, of a total state school pupil population of just over 9,830,000.


That compares with 2012-2013, when 107,900 pupils were in special schools, of a total pupil cohort of close to 9,200,000.


The number of pupils attending independent special schools also increased slightly between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019, from 3,600 to 3,700 pupils.


Understanding the needs of the pupil population

Official figures from the Department for Education show there are currently 1.3 million pupils with SEND, accounting for 14.9% of all pupils.


Meanwhile figures from the FFT Education Datalab highlight that the proportion of pupils with a statement or health, education and care (EHC) plan has been steadily increasing since 2007.


Of the total number of pupils with SEND, 22% have speech, language and communication needs as their primary need.


Among pupils with an EHC plan, autism is the most common need, with 29% of pupils having it listed as their primary need type.


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