The number of pupils with special educational needs who have education, health and care plans (EHCPs) has increased by 10 per cent in a year, according to new figures.
In the 2019-20 academic year, there were 294,758 pupils in schools with an EHCP – and this increased to 325,618 in 2020-21.
But the number of pupils in the lower "SEN support" category of need has increased just by a fraction, 0.4 per cent – from 1,079,000 to 1,083,083 in 2020-21, according to the statistics published by the Department for Education.
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In primary schools, the percentage of pupils with an EHCP has risen from 1.8 per cent to 2.1 per cent, while the proportion of pupils with SEN support has decreased, from 12.8 per cent to 12.6 per cent.
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Secondaries show a similarly stable picture: the percentage of students with an EHCP has increased from 1.8 to 2 per cent. The proportion of SEN support students has also increased from 11.1 per cent to 11.5 per cent.
In pupil referral units, the percentage of pupils on EHCPs has jumped from 16.4 per cent to 24 per cent – however, this needs to be taken in the context of an overall pupil number decrease (from 15,396 to 12,785), the DfE report says.
The percentage of pupils with SEN support in PRUs has decreased, from 64.9 per cent to 58.7 per cent.
According to the report, 38 per cent of pupils with an EHCP and 34.3 per cent of pupils with SEN support are eligible for free school meals this year – compared with 20.8 per cent of all pupils in all schools.
The percentage of EHCP or SEN support pupils eligible for free school meals has been growing since 2017-18, when it was 31 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.