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15th January 2010 at 00:00
Number of local authorities to issue SEN statements within 26 weeks

Children with special educational needs (SEN) are among the most vulnerable in society, yet there are some local authorities, according to Department for Children, Schools and Families' figures, who are unable to issue more than two-thirds of their completed statements of SEN in 26 weeks - keeping pupils waiting for extra resources.

Most of the eight local authorities failing to meet that level were small, unitary councils. That said, the council reported as achieving the lowest percentage (with only 54 per cent of final statements of special educational needs, excluding exceptional cases, issued within 26 weeks), was the sizable West Sussex County Council.

However, the good news is that the majority of councils managed to achieve totals better than 90 per cent, including an average of 95 per cent for the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber government office regions for final statements issued within 26 weeks.

Interestingly, Barnet, one of the councils often cited as a testbed for new forms of local government, performs badly on this one indicator, with an achievement rate of 74 per cent of statements issued.

Of course, percentages can be misleading, as the actual numbers of pupils involved can be small. For example, there are only 40 overall in the case of Barnet. But any figure below 100 per cent can mean a delay in getting resources to a child whose educational outcome may be affected.

This is one frontline education service where efforts must be made to prevent cuts in expenditure

John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.

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