One-in-five requests for SEND assessments refused

Fewer than two-thirds of new plans completed within the time limit

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More than one-in-five parental requests for an assessment for additional support for children with special educational needs was turned down last year, new statistics reveal.

The statistics published today by the Department for Education show that there were 64,555 requests for children and young people to be assessed for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) during 2017 – compared with 55,235 in 2016, a rise of 17 per cent.

But the proportion being rejected has fallen. In 2017, 22.6 per cent were refused, compared to 2016 when 26.8 per cent were turned down.

Local authorities are turning plans around more quickly, but of the new plans produced during 2017, still fewer than two-thirds were issued within the 20-week time limit.

The statistics show that 64.9 per cent of plans were issued within the time limit, compared to 58.6 per cent last year.

An EHCP plan sets out what needs a child with SEND has and how they should be met.

Local authorities are expected to take no more than 20 weeks from the point when an assessment is requested until the final EHCP is issued.

There have been concerns about delays. A Tes investigation in January found that around 1,000 children waited longer than a year for their plan in 2016.

Today’s statistics also show that:

  • The number of children and young people with EHCPs or statements of special educational needs has risen by 11.3 per cent since last year – driven by a large increase in the plans for those aged 16 to 25.
  • There were 42,162 children and young people with new EHCPs made during 2017 – 16.8 per cent more plans were made in 2017 than in 2016.
  • The total number of children with plans is 285,722 and a further 34,097 have statements in January 2018, when the figures were compiled. Although more recent figures have shown that by 1 April 2018 that there were 3,873 children with statements who were waiting for a transfer to an EHCP be completed.
  • There are 128,144 children with EHCPs in mainstream schools compared with 126,960 in special schools and 2,300 in alternative provision. In further education, 46,854 students have EHCPs. And an additional 1,476 children with plans are in private or voluntary early years settings

Nadhim Zahawi, children and families minister, said: "We want every child to have the support they need to unlock their potential, no matter what challenges they face. Thanks to this government’s reforms, more children and young people with special educational needs are getting the support they need at school and college, and the number who move on to access training schemes, apprenticeships or supported internships is increasing.

“But we are not complacent, and recognise there is more to do to make sure all children and young people have the right support to succeed in the future, and that families get help to navigate the new SEND system. That is why we are investing £25 million to help schools deliver high-quality teaching, prioritise SEND support and create better links between mainstream and special education.”

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

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