Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
The Children and Families Act (2014) places a duty on Local Authorities to identify all children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in their area. The Act requires health, education and social care services to jointly commission services for this group, producing information on the ‘SEND Local Offer’.
The term ‘Special Educational Needs’ (SEN) is an education term which specifically refers to children and young people who meet the definition given by the SEND Code of Practice :-
- A child or young person aged 0-25 has special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them
- A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she: has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or has a disability which prevents or hinders him or her from making use of facilities of a kind generally provided for others of the same age in mainstream schools or mainstream post-16 institutions
'Disability' can be defined in different ways, in particular in planning, health and social care settings. The statutory definition of disability in the UK comes from the Equality Act (2010). The World Health Organisation also provides a definition of three elements of disability: impairment, activity limitation and participation restriction.
The Equality Act (2010): ‘Disability is a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities’
The World Health Organisation (2013): Disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions:-
- An impairment is a problem in body function or structure;
- An activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action;
- A participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations
Somerset SEND Needs Assessment 2022
To inform ongoing commissioning of local services a series of annual SEND Needs Assessments have been compiled. The primary purpose of the latest needs assessment was to inform the development of a joint health and social care SEND Strategy. It draws on data and evidence from a range of sources, including the views of parents and families, to describe a picture of SEND need and service provision across Somerset.
The following points provide an overview of key findings from the 2022 Needs Assessment. Underlying data and analysis is available within the full report.
- There are approximately 164,000 children and young people, aged 0 to 25, in Somerset.
- A snapshot in January 2022 indicated 14,459 children in young people living in Somerset with identified SEND, of which 4,246 had an EHC Plan and 10,213 were SEND Support.
- The most common primary needs being Speech, Language and Communication; and Social, Emotional and Mental Health. In Somerset rates of permanent exclusions and suspensions from school are persistently much higher than the national average and those with SEMH needs are more likely to be excluded.
- Children living in deprived areas in Somerset are twice as likely to have a SEND need. This however varies when broken down by primary need. For example, there appears to be little association between income deprivation and Autistic Spectrum Condition, but stronger association between deprivation and Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs.
- The risk of having SEND is higher in children who had a pre-term birth (before 37 weeks). In 2021/22, the Somerset monthly monitoring of pre-term birth fluctuated between 5-9%, higher than the national ambition of 6%.
- There are an estimated 9,900 children and young people in Somerset with a diagnosable mental health condition, based on an established ‘1 in 9’ prevalence within the relevant cohort.
- Many children and young people who have SEN also have a disability. This can impact on their education, general health, and wellbeing. For example, the prevalence of children aged 0-9 with a diagnosis of epilepsy is 4.2 % for those with a combined diagnosis of a learning disability. This increases to 6.8% in the 10 to 17-year-old age category, and 9% in the 18 to 24-year-old age category.
- There are wide variations in the proportion of pupils in each ethnic group who are SEND. Pupils with a Gypsy/Roma ethnicity are around twice as likely as their peers to have identified SEND (86 of 260 pupils, equating to 33% of all Gypsy/Roma pupils).
- Somerset is consistent with national averages in that most pupils in Somerset schools with SEND are boys (72% of pupils with an EHC Plan are boys; 63% of pupils with SEND Support are boys). However, this is most prevalent in Autistic Spectrum Disorder (78% boys) and Social, Emotional and Mental Health (70% boys).
- In Somerset, nearly half (47%) of Children Looked After (CLA) have an EHC Plan. This is well above the national average rate of 29%. In Somerset, 19% of Children in Need (CiN) have an EHC Plan. This is below the national average of 28%.
- Key themes from engagement with children and young people, parent carers and family members on SEND Services in Somerset include: the importance of strong trusting relationships for people to share their story; a perceived lack of information sharing between services (having to tell a story more than once); a lack of perceived change following feedback; seemingly ‘hostile’ services; unidentified mental health needs; the need for clearer referral pathways; the importance of positive personal interactions; and a desire to simply ‘belong’.
- Almost exactly two years after the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, ‘The Unstoppables’ SEND participation group used a meeting to reflect on their experiences. Challenges were explored which included living with the new normal, not having carers and getting support at the start. Isolation and vulnerability were discussed and the impact on children and young people. Positives were also explored, including things such as focusing on physical health and feeling warm and safe.
- A snapshot in July 2021 showed a total of 344 service providers listed on the Somerset SEND Local Offer. The Local Offer provides information on the services available for children and young people with SEND and how to access them.
- Data to inform this needs analysis was sourced from a range of local and national sources, including Somerset County Council, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, Somerset Parent Carer Forum, the Department for Education, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, and the Office for National Statistics.
- The data we have available to understand the needs for preparation for adulthood is limited and focuses on the educational attainment needs. This will need to be addressed from the messages we are getting from parents and improvements to data collection in the future.
Previous SEND Needs Assessments