Support for children with special educational needs and disabilities Contents


A child or young person has special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. At January 2019, 1.3 million school-age children in total were recorded as having SEND. Of these, 270,800 pupils (20.6% of pupils with SEND) had legally enforceable entitlements to specific packages of support that are set out in formal education, health and care (EHC) plans. These were children whom local authorities had assessed as needing the most support. The remaining 1,041,500 children with SEND did not have EHC plans but had been identified as needing some additional support at school. At January 2019, 87.5% of pupils with SEND attended mainstream state primary and secondary schools.

The Department for Education (the Department) is accountable to Parliament for the support system and for securing value for money from the funding it provides (£9.4 billion in 2018–19) for schools in England to support pupils with SEND. Local authorities, working with other national and local bodies, have a statutory responsibility to ensure that children with SEND receive the support they need. In September 2014, under the Children and Families Act 2014, the government made substantial changes to how children with SEND are supported. Among the government’s aims for the changes were that children’s needs would be identified earlier, families would be more involved in decisions affecting them, and education, health and care services would be better integrated.

Published: 6 May 2020