EHC plans for SEND pupils surges by 11%


Councils across England have recorded an 11% annual jump in the number of education, health and care (EHC) plans issued to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The rise is part of a wider trend that has seen demand for care plans surge in the past four years, with schools fighting to ensure they maintain educational standards.

According to new government figures, 354,000 children and young people were receiving EHC plans from local authorities in January this year, up from just under 320,000 a year ago.

While pupil numbers have increased during that time, the number of plans being issued has grown steadily since their introduction as a replacement for statements of special educational needs.

EHC plans have a major role in determining how much funding schools receive per pupil, a key factor when they are facing financial pressures.

The key figures

Some 39.2 of pupils with EHC plans are educated in mainstream schools, with a further 38.6% of those with plans taught in special schools.

A further 16.2% are in further education and 0.8% of pupils are in alternative provision.

In 2018, 48,900 children and young people were issued with a new EHC plan, up 16% from the year before, while pupils waited longer to receive their plans.

In total, 60.4% of pupils saw their new EHC plans issues within 20 weeks in 2018 – while this represents a drop from the 64.8% figure for 2017, it remains above the two years before that.

Dealing with demand

The Local Government Association has previously warned that schools could face a SEND funding gap as a result of the sharp rise in demand for EHC plans.

Should funding for those with great needs not keep pace with the demand, schools could be forced to cut the number of SEND places they can offer.

Currently, the first £6,000 of high needs provision is funded by schools, meaning those under financial pressures may need to restructure their educational offering.