In 2018, nationwide, 2.9% of all school children had Special Education Needs statements (SEN) or Education, Health and Care plans (EHCP)*. This entails a 4.21% increase in the total number of school children in England with recognised special needs since 2014/15. 

  • The regions with the greatest proportion of school children with EHC plans or SEN statements in 2018 were the South East (3.09%) and North East (3.07%). 

  • London has seen the most significant growth in the proportion of school children with EHC plans or SEN statements at 9.56%.

New legislation has undoubtedly increased parental expectations as well as  placed stronger duties on Councils and the NHS. This is a likely reason for increased demand, but many suggest that less money in the school system is also incentivising schools to support parents in EHCPs, given the additional money attached.  

Need is also playing a part in the growth of the number of school children with  recognised special needs, particularly the increased awareness of Autistic Spectrum Disorders.  Whilst the number of EHCPs is rising, most public authorities will be hit harder by an increasing complexity of care, as nowadays children with SEND have higher life expectancies than historically but also more complex needs. 

The system of education, health and social care faces a major challenge to meet needs to ensure that the system works for children and parents alike, while keeping costs and demand at an appropriate level.

Our research into children's social care has shown that since 2014/2015, the number of children social care assessments across England has grown by 11.9% (read more about it here). Moreover, the national average unit cost expenditure for children’s social care has increased by 9.18% to £774 per head in 2017/2018 (find out more here). 

To find out more about our research and data analysis tools or to pose a research question, speak to us at

CFO Insights is an online analysis tool that gives those aspiring to improve the financial position of their organisation instant access to insight on the financial performance, socio-economic context and service outcomes of theirs and every other council in England, Scotland and Wales. The tool provides a three-dimensional lens through which to understand council income and spend by category, the outcomes for that spend and the socio-economic context within which a council operates. This enables comparison against others, not only nationally, but in the context of their geographical and statistical neighbours.

We have also launched Adult Social Care Insights - the online analysis tool for local authorities to better understand their Adult Social Care services and system performance, enabling the intelligible visualisation of usually disparate and complex datasets. The platform looks at the services using 5 lenses: Council context, Demand, Services provided, Costs and Outcomes - allowing councils to assess their performance now and benchmark it against peers in ways that haven't been possible before. Reach out to us at for more information.

* SEN statements and EHC plans: Depending on their need of care, children and young persons between the ages of 0 and 25 are issued a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP). Within Statements of Special Educational Needs support is provided to children at their mainstream educational setting (college, school, or nursery)*. If more support is needed than the SEN can provide, local authorities assess the need for an EHCP, consisting of a legal document describing the specific care needs to be provided and an allocated budget for the provision of extra support*.