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Statistics published: special educational needs - January 2019

The DfE has published statistics from the January 2019 school census on pupils with special educational needs (SEN).

Key findings

Numbers of pupils with SEN in schools:

  • In 2019, the total number of pupils with SEN has risen for the third year in a row to 1,318,300, constituting 14.9% of the total pupil population. This is made up of:

- 271,165 pupils with statements or education, health and care (EHC) plans – 3.1% of all pupils

- 1,047,165 pupils with SEN without statements or EHC plans – 11.9% of all pupils.

Please note, these figures were rounded up in the summary report.

Primary type of need:

  • Among all pupils with SEN, speech, language and communication needs is the most common type of need among SEN pupils at 22%; previously, this has been moderate learning difficulty, which has now decreased to 20%
  • For pupils on SEN support, speech, language and communication needs is also the most common need at 23%
  • For pupils with an EHC plan, autism spectrum disorder is the most common type of need at 29%. This has increased from 28% in January 2018.

Types of school:

  • The numbers of pupils with SEN has increased in all school types, except for pupil referral units which has had a small decrease in pupils with and without SEN

- state-funded primary schools: the number of pupils in 2019 with SEN has increased by 3%, thereby increasing the incidence of SEN to 14.2% from 13.8% in 2018. This represents 51% of all pupils with SEN

- state-funded secondary schools: the number of pupils with SEN has increased by 2%, thereby slightly increasing the incidence of SEN to 12.4% from 12.3% in 2018. This represents 31% of all pupils with SEN

- state-funded special schools: the number of pupils with SEN in 2019 has increased by 6%, but the incidence of SEN has remained at 99.5% from 2018. This represents 9% of all pupils with SEN.

Pupil characteristics:

  • SEN remains more prevalent in boys than girls:

- 15% of boys are on SEN support, compared to 8% of girls

- 4.4% of boys have an EHC plan, compared to 1.7% of girls

  • Pupils with SEN remain more likely to be eligible for free school meals (FSM), with 28% of pupils with SEN in 2019 eligible for FSM in contrast to 13% without SEN.
  • SEN is most prevalent in travellers of Irish heritage (30%), Gypsy/Roma pupils (26%) and Black Caribbean pupils (20%).
  • Pupils whose first language is English are more likely to have SEN (15%) than those whose first language is known to be other than English (12%).

Read the full report and access the underlying data tables.

Last updated 08 July 2019