Pupils with EHC plans jump by 10%


The number of pupils with education, health and care (EHC) plans continued to rise over the last year, according to the Department for Education.

Data from January this year shows a 10% increase in EHC plans for the 12 months previous, on top of an 11% increase for the period between early 2018 and early 2019.

There were more than 390,000 pupils with an EHC at the start of this year, up from just under 354,000 just 12 months previously, although pupil numbers have also increased in that time.

Rising numbers of EHC plans has also increased the need for teaching staff capable of supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Official figures reveal that the number of EHC plans being issued by councils has continually risen since they replaced statements of special educational needs, a reform introduced in the 2014 Children and Families Act.

Not only do they cover a greater range of health conditions, but EHC plans also determine how much funding a school receives per pupil, meaning they can help to alleviate funding pressures for some councils.

Based on the figures for January 2020, 35% of EHC plans were for children aged from 11 to 15, with a further 33% were for aged five to 10.

Nearly four in ten pupils with an EHC plan attend mainstream schools, with the remainder taught in special schools and other locations that are more suited to their particular needs.

Of the 53,900 children to be given a new EHC plan between early 2019 and 2020, 47% were for pupils aged between five and 10, with a further 25% for those aged 11-15.

An additional 23% of care plans were for children in early years and nursery settings, designed to support those aged under five.

The type and quality of support on offer as a result of EHC plans differs by region across England, which has led the Parliamentary public accounts committee to call for action.

Figures from the National Audit Office highlight that in some areas the proportion of pupils with EHC plans stands at around 1%, while in others it is nearly 6%, meaning that demand for SEN teachers can vary significantly by region.