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Level of need in the population

Background papers: children :: Special educational needs and disabilities [Update in progress] :: Level of need in the population

Levels of SEND in Medway

Medway demographics indicate that the level of SEND should be close to the national average. Medway is at the 50th centile for deprivation which is generally a very good indicator for levels of SEND.

Establishing a definitive picture of need around SEND within Medway is difficult due to different agencies working with individuals and different definitions of disability and its severity. As noted above in relation to the Ofsted report, identification of children as having SEN at school action or school action plus is by schools, and practice is variable nationally, meaning that a pupil in school A identified as having SEND may not be identified by school B. There are also different thresholds for issuing a statement of SEND across the country. SEND data therefore needs to be viewed with this in mind.

Twice per year Medway Council collects census information from schools. The January 2012 school census data is a very comprehensive and current source of information on children with SEND within Medway. The Department for Education Statistical First Release[1] is used as the key source of national data on SEND. It draws from two sources: the School Census, completed by schools each January, and the SEN2 Survey, completed by local authorities.

• The incidence of overall SEND within Medway schools has fallen over the past 5 years.
• The last five years have seen an increasing number of children and young people with complex needs requiring specialist provision.[2] This has had a significant impact on services at all levels; universal, targeted and specialist
• Medway has a higher level of SEND than the national average

The January 2012 Medway School census shows that there are 42,269 young people on the school roll in Medway. Of this 10,274 have SEND. This represents 24.3% of the school population, compared to 19.8% nationally. 3.1% have a statement compared to a national figure of 2.8%. This suggests that Medway schools are identifying much higher proportions of children and young people as having SEND than the national average.

Medway also has a high rate of pupils with Statements or at School Action Plus (SA+) who are identified with having behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD). 21.5% of primary and 33% of secondary pupils with Statements or at SA+ had BESD as their primary need compared with 18.6% and 29% nationally. The gap increases by a percentage point at secondary level.

Medway has a higher rate of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) identified as a primary need on Statements and at SA+ for primary pupils (31.2%) than the national average (29.1%). The massive drop at secondary phase (8.4%) mirrors the national picture.

Medway has a much higher proportion of children and young people with Statements for Autistic Spectrum disorders (ASD) than the national average. 12.1% of primary pupils with a Statement in Medway had ASD compared with a national average of 8.5%. 20% of secondary aged pupils with Statements in Medway had ASD compared with 9.6% nationally. This could be related to prevalence rates within Medway as a whole. It is known prevalence rates vary widely across the country. One possible contributing factor is diagnostic procedures. It is noted that currently Medway's diagnostic pathway is not compliant with NICE guidelines.

Figure 1: SEN Type Medway, National and South East 2012
Figure 1: SEN Type — Medway, National and South East 2012.[3]

SEND and poverty in Medway

There is a direct relationship between SEND levels and poverty within the Medway area. The more deprived wards have higher levels of incidence amongst pupils.

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Rank All SEND Statement All SEND Statement All SEND Statement All SEND Statement All SEND Statement
Luton and Wayfield 1 38.7 4.0 37.1 3.7 38.7 3.8 39.6 3.8 37.5 3.6
Chatham Central 2 34.5 3.4 31.7 3.3 30.4 3.5 32.5 3.2 32.7 3.1
Gillingham North 3 33.2 3.0 31.8 3.2 30.3 2.8 29.3 3.0 27.4 3.2
Gillingham South 4 31.0 3.5 29.2 3.7 30.4 3.8 27.8 3.4 25.4 3.4
Strood South 5 34.5 3.2 35.6 3.3 32.8 3.0 29.8 3.0 25.0 3.0
Rochester East 6 26.4 2.0 25.2 2.0 28.8 2.4 27.4 2.3 25.3 2.3
Twydall 7 26.5 3.3 27.4 3.2 27.1 3.2 26.7 3.3 24.9 3.2
Strood North 8 30.2 2.6 28.9 2.4 27.5 2.4 25.8 2.4 21.9 2.7
Princes Park 9 30.4 3.2 32.3 3.3 30.4 3.3 28.1 3.1 25.8 3.0
River 10 27.7 2.2 26.9 2.2 22.1 2.3 21.9 1.8 21.0 1.8
Rochester West 11 23.5 2.5 22.3 2.8 22.3 2.6 20.8 2.8 21.2 2.4
Walderslade 12 27.9 3.9 28.7 3.7 27.2 3.0 26.5 4.0 25.8 3.6
Peninsula 13 26.5 2.7 28.2 2.8 25.8 3.3 22.6 3.0 25.1 2.9
Rainham North 14 24.4 2.5 25.6 2.3 23.8 2.3 25.9 2.4 21.8 2.9
Lordswood & Capstone 15 30.7 1.8 26.7 1.7 25.5 1.5 22.4 1.4 21.1 1.7
Rochester South and Horsted 16 20.5 2.1 20.1 2.3 20.1 2.2 20.0 2.2 20.4 2.3
Watling 17 20.0 2.4 20.6 2.5 20.0 2.5 20.4 2.5 16.8 2.2
Strood Rural 18 24.7 2.5 23.0 2.1 20.8 2.4 19.8 2.4 19.4 2.6
Rainham South 19 24.5 3.4 25.8 3.1 25.4 3.3 25.8 3.2 24.6 3.4
Rainham Central 20 21.8 2.6 23.2 2.3 23.8 2.7 23.6 2.8 19.7 2.9
Cuxton and Halling 21 22.2 3.6 21.0 3.1 21.7 3.4 19.0 3.2 19.7 3.5
Hempstead and Wigmore 22 16.2 2.8 16.7 2.7 16.9 2.5 17.7 2.2 17.9 2.1
Unknown/Out of Area 99 22.9 2.5 21.3 2.8 21.0 2.8 20.2 3.2 18.4 2.4
Medway 27.8 2.9 27.4 2.9 26.7 2.9 25.9 2.9 24.3 2.9
Table 1: The percentage of SEND and statemented pupils by ward, ranked by deprivation

Table 2 shows instances of SEND ranked by deprivation across all 22 Medway wards; 1 is the most deprived and 22 the least. 'All SEND' indicates both school action and school action plus. The 'S' indicates statemented young people. Historically Luton and Wayfield ward has had the highest percentage of young people with all types of SEND (38.7% in 2008 falling slightly to 37.5% in 2012). This compares to 16.2% and 17.9% respectively for Hempstead and Wigmore ward ranked with the lowest level of deprivation. Similarly Luton and Wayfield ward has the highest instance of statemented young people falling slightly from 4.0% in 2008 to 3.6% in 2012.

This is in line with the national picture:[1]
• The proportion of pupils known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals was much higher for pupils with SEN than for pupils with no SEN.
• In primary schools, 31.5 per cent of pupils with SEN (with and without statements) were known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals, compared with 15.2 per cent of pupils with no SEN.
• In secondary schools the comparable figures were 26.9 per cent for pupils with SEN and 11.7 per cent for pupils with no SEN.
• In special schools, 35.8 per cent of pupils were eligible for and claiming free school meals.[3]

Impact of gender, age and ethnicity on SEND in Medway


• Males with SEND outnumber females and account for approximately 65% of all pupils with an SEN status.
• Although not shown in the table below, this is even starker in the higher need categories; as males who are supported at SA+ outnumber females by over 2 to 1 (31% vs 69%) and with Statements by almost 3 to 1 (27% vs 73%).
• Data shows that males are more prevalent in the cognition and learning difficulties category (over 77% male), whereas young people with physical disabilities have a more even gender split. This matches the pattern seen nationally.[3]

This is in line with the national picture:[1]

• In primary schools, the incidence of pupils with statements of SEN was much higher for boys (2.0 per cent) than for girls (0.8 per cent). Similarly, the incidence of pupils with SEN without statements was higher for boys (21.8 per cent) than for girls (12.2 per cent).

• Secondary schools show a similar picture regarding gender. The incidence of boys with statements (2.9 per cent) is nearly three times that for girls (1.0 per cent). The incidence of pupils with SEN without statements was 22.1 per cent for boys and 14.5 per cent for girls.


Age of those on school roll in Medway[3]
• Of the 10,274 young people in Medway with an identified SEN status 64% are of primary school age (0–11) and 36% are of secondary age (12-18).

• Of the 64% of primary school pupils 51.8% are at School Action, 38.5% are at School Action Plus and 9.7% have Statements.
• Of the 36% in secondary 56.1% are at School Action, 28.4% School Action Plus and 15.5% have statements.

The age group with the largest number of SEN young people is 10 years old representing 9.4% of the overall total. This is generally because schools or parents believe that although the pupil has managed in mainstream primary school, they would not be able to cope with mainstream secondary school. Pupils need a statement to access special schools and those places are generally requested at the end of Year 5 when the child is 10.

National Picture:[1]

• In primary schools, the percentage of pupils with statements of SEN increased with age. For secondary school age pupils in secondary schools, the percentage of pupils with statements was fairly constant through the age range.

• The percentage of pupils with SEN without statements in primary schools increased fairly constantly with age. In secondary schools, for pupils of secondary school age, the percentage of pupils with SEN without statements decreased from age 11 onwards, falling sharply at age 16.


The January 2012 school census shows that the school population is 42,275 young people. There are 7,857 BME young people (18.6%), BME is defined by the census as “all ethnic groups except; English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Other White British, Refused and Not Obtained”.

Within Medway, key points on ethnicity are:
• 82.4% of those with SEN are White–English, with 25.18% of this group within the school population having SEN;
• Some groups are under–represented: 12.99% of 'Asian, or Asian British–Asian Indian', 14.76% of Black, or Black British–Black African and 18.48% of 'Asian or Asian British–Asian Bangladeshi' are identified with SEN;
• All of these groups are over–represented at SA and under–represented at SA+ compared with the White British group. This is significant as more resources are allocated to pupils with SA+ than SA within schools;
• Some groups are over–represented. The most striking issue is that 54% of the 222 pupils in Medway identified as 'Gypsy Roma' are also identified as having SEN.

There needs to be further assessment of the issues underpinning this data including consultation with parents and young people from the communities in question as well as schools.

Educational outcomes and SEN in Medway

Key stage 2 performance

Young people with a SEN status do not perform as well academically as those with no SEN status. Young people who have no SEN have an average points score over the three subjects of 28.9, those at school action have 24.0, those at school action plus have 23.8 and those young people who have the lowest average point score of 17.4.


During the first term of the 2012–13 academic year primary aged young people (0–11) with an identified SEN had an overall absence rate of 5.39%. Of this 4.44% were authorised absences and 0.95% were unauthorised. In the same period secondary aged young people (12–18) with SEN had an absence rate of 6.18% authorised and 1.09% unauthorised.

The number of pupils who are persistent absentees in Medway (5.9%) is lower that national figure of 6.2%. However, it is slightly higher than regional figures of 5.8%.

Comparing the January 2012 school census data to historic information collected from the DoE, the rate of recorded absence is higher (September 2011 to December 2011), for young people with SEN compared to the whole population.

SEND and Fixed Term Exclusions (FTEs)

In academic year 2011–12 1,007 young people received 1,989 fixed term exclusions from Medway schools resulting in 5,517.5 school days lost. Of this 577 young people with SEND had received 1,276 FTEs resulting in 3,525 school days lost.

57.2% of young people who have received a FTE have a SEND status.[4] Of these, approximately 47% are at SA and approximately 40% are at SA+ because of BESD.


[1]   Department for Education. Statistical First Release: Special Educational Needs in England 2012;
[2]   Cocentra. Special Education Needs - Masterplan and Trend Analysis (Revision C) 2012; Cocentra.
[3]   Department for Education. School Census 2012;
[4]   Impulse. School Database 2012;