The trend towards fewer children with statements of special educational needs in state funded schools continued this year. Provisional figures, based on pupils in school this January, show further reductions compared with last year, and the lowest number of such pupils since 2005.
This January, there were still more than 57,000 primary and nearly 65,000 secondary school pupils with statements, although this was a total reduction of more than 22,000 compared with 2005.
There was a small rise in the number of statemented nursery school pupils, after three years of decline, but it remains a very small proportion of all the pupils.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the pupils in state funded special schools with statements has remained relatively constant, at about 83,000, or over 97 per cent of pupils. Only a small proportion of pupils in pupil referral units (PRUs) have statements, although there was small rise compared with 2008. In total, some 25,770 children received statements for the first time during 2008, of whom nearly 6,500 were under five, and 12,600 were aged between five and 10.
The big change in recent years has been in the independent sector, where pupils with statements have increased every year since 2005, to a high of 8,690 in January 2009; 1,400 more than in 2005. The incidence of such pupils, at 1.5 per cent of those in the sector, now exceeds state primary schools, where the incidence is 1.4 per cent. However, in state secondary schools the incidence is 2 per cent. It might be interesting to speculate how much extra these changes are costing the state in funding?
John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.