Table of contents

Who is at risk and why

Background papers: children :: Special educational needs and disabilities [Update in progress] :: Who is at risk and why

The Medway vision for children and young people with SEND within the Children and Young People's Plan (CYPP)[1] for developing special educational needs is:
• To enable children and young people's needs to be met in a holistic way enabling them to have a fulfilled adult life
• To deliver educational provision in buildings that are fit for purpose
• To develop the workforce ensuring they are equipped with the skills, knowledge and understanding to provide the quality and scope of the provision required
• To have provision that is quality assured and which gives good value for money
• To have a continuum of provision with mainstream schools accessing the support and expertise within the special provisions
• To enable children and young people to be educated near to where they live and reduce the numbers of children and young people being educated outside of Medway
• To have good post–16 provision, progression and choices

The fundamental principles for SEN in Medway are:[2]
• A child with special educational needs should have their needs met
• The special educational needs of most children will normally be met in a mainstream school (as set out in the Education Act 1996)
• Children's needs will be met in an appropriate provision
• The views of the child should be sought and taken into account
• Parents/carers have a vital role to play in supporting their child's education
• Children with special educational needs deserve full access to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum with clear post–16 progression routes and options

Special Educational Needs

The Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice[3] describes children with special educational needs as having “a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them”. A 'learning difficulty' is experienced by school–age children who:
• have significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age: or
• who have a disability which prevents or hinders them from using the regular educational facilities provided by the local education authority.

Recently the term Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) has become more widely used to describe this population. This term will be used throughout this document to refer to all children falling under the SEN Code of Practice definition above. It should be noted however that some pupils with disabilities do not require SEN provision, such as many of those with diabetes.

Levels of intervention

Three levels currently exist for pupils with SEN in England as shown in Table 1.

  Intervention Description
School action The school decides to make its own special provision that is in addition to or different from its usual differential approach to help children learn School action
School action plus The school provides support to the child but requires the support of external specialists and services School action plus
Statement Local authority arranges provision for a child who requires support beyond which can be provided under the above two interventions Statement
Table 1: Levels of intervention for SEN in England.[4]

Data from January 2012 puts the number of school children nationally with SEN at 1,618,340 (19.8% of the school population). Of these, 226,125 pupils (2.8% of the school population) had statements of SEN. Nationally the number of statements has increased by 1,915 since 2011 with the population increasing by 54,515. Locally the percentage of the school age population who have a statement is broadly 3.1% whereas the percentage of children with SEN other than a statement has fallen since 2009 from 24.1% to 23.5% in 2010, 22.8% in 2011 and 21.3% in 2012. This number is higher than the national average (19.8%).

A 2010 Ofsted report[5] evaluated how well the legislative framework had served children with SEN, and highlighted concerns about the current system. Among its findings:[6]
• The proportion of pupils with a statement of SEN decreased slightly from 2003 (3.0%) to 2010 (2.7%), but increased for those requiring support at School Action or School Action Plus from 14.0% to 18.2%.
• For up to half the pupils identified for School Action this could have been avoided if schools had focused on improving teaching and learning for all, with individual goals for improvement.
• Legislation, guidance and systems linked to SEN have become very complex resulting in a system that is difficult to navigate, especially for parents and young people.

This review prompted the government to start a consultation process through a Green Paper, aiming to achieve better educational outcomes and life chances for children and young people with SEND, better early intervention to prevent problems later; and greater choice for parents in the schools their children attend and the support and services they receive.[4]

A focus on achieving better outcomes for children and young people with SEN is important to increase engagement despite a range of health and social inequalities:

• Those with SEN are recognised as being at higher risk of safeguarding issues, poverty and poor lifelong educational attainment. They may have restricted access to services due to lack of coordinated assessments and provision, and may be at increased risk of family breakdown.[4]
• As the disabled population increases, without a commensurate increase in service provision there is a risk that children with a range of SEND, are excluded from their local community, universal and targeted provision, and from appropriate short breaks.

• Educational achievements and other outcomes (for examples please refer to p22 of the Green Paper)
• Fixed term exclusions
• Secondary health problems in addition to those mentioned in the statement
• Children and young people who are from vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds are much more likely to be identified as having SEN, as shown in Figure 1

Figure 1: Children and young people with SEN or disability (SEND)
Figure 1: Children and young people with SEN or disability (SEND) against other factors.[4]


[1]   Medway Children's Trust. CYPP - Children and Young People's Plan 2011 to 2014 October, 2011; Medway Children's Trust. .
[2]   Medway Council. Special Educational Needs - An inclusive policy and strategy for Medway 2009-2014 2009; Medway Council. .
[3]   Department for Education and Skills. Special Educational Needs Code of Practice 2001; Department for Education and Skills. .
[4]   Department for Education. Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability - A consultation 2011; Department for Education. .
[5]   Ofsted. The special educational needs and disability review 2010;
[6]   Gillie C. The green paper on special educational needs and disability 2012; House of Commons. .