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 to jointly commission services for this group, producing information on the ‘Local Offer’ that sets out the provision that the Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) expects to be available for children with SEND.
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 2020/21
To inform ongoing commissioning of local services, the SEND Improvement Board in Somerset initiated a series of annual SEND Needs Assessments. The Improvement Board includes members of Somerset County Council, Clinical Commissioning Groups, health providers, education providers, and representatives from parent-carer groups. The latest report can be downloaded below.
A summary of key findings from the 2020/21 Needs Assessment are as follows. Underlying data and analysis is available within the full report.
- Somerset’s population is classified as 52% urban and 48% rural, making it one of the ten most rural local authority areas in England. The county’s rural communities can face particular challenges in terms of geographical access to services.
- Educational outcomes for children and young people with SEND in Somerset are below national average attainment levels at Key Stages 2 and 4. A break in performance reporting in 2019/20 due to the Covid19 pandemic means it’s not possible to quantify any progress in this area at this stage.
- A higher proportion of Somerset Children Looked After (CLA) have identified SEND compared to the national average, both in relation to Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and SEND Support.
- The identification of children and young people with SEND appears not to be in line with the National average. Partial data indicates there is an over identification of pupils with Social, Emotional, and Mental Health (SEMH), with 23.1% having SEMH identified as primary need compared to the National average of 18.3% which suggests that children and young people in Somerset are having their needs inappropriately identified. There is no obvious sign that the gap between Somerset and the national SEND profile is narrowing but substantial work is being undertaken to improve data capture to better inform the work.
- In contrast to the above, the identification of children and young people with SEND whose primary need is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) appears to be below the national average, with 8.3% of pupils in Somerset identified with ASD as primary need, compared to the National average of 11.8%. Resolving difficulties with data capture to give a more accurate picture of need is being progressed. The most common disabling condition of DLA claimants (aged 0-15) in Somerset is Learning Difficulties, followed by Behavioural Disorder, and Hyperkinetic Syndrome.
- The most common type of need among school pupils with an EHCP continues to be autistic spectrum condition, with numbers increasing significantly in recent years. The second most common type of need for pupils with an EHCP is Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH), for which numbers have also been increasing year-on-year.
- Compared to national averages, Somerset has a higher proportion of children and young people with EHCPs attending further education and a lower proportion of children and young people with EHCPs attending mainstream schools. Geographically Somerset has a higher proportion of special independent providers than its neighbours, which provides parents/carers with a greater choice of provisions.
- Rates of permanent exclusion of pupils with an EHCP and pupils with SEND Support in Somerset are consistently above national average rates.
- Latest data (for 2018/19) indicates that 86% of Somerset children with an EHCP and 90% with SEND Support were in sustained EET at age 17 (compared to 91% and 89% respectively nationally)
Next Steps and Conclusions
- In February 2021 recording of an NHS Number for all children and young people with an EHCP was established. This will enable future system reporting relating to access to NHS services, activity and outcomes. Work has also commenced to identify services with specific SEND involvement, such as therapy and neuro behaviour pathways, to establish activity and outcomes.
- A key gap that has been identified is in relation to special school placement sufficiency. A new Somerset SEND Sufficiency Plan is under development.
- SEND Support throughout the county has been inconsistent and there has been a lack of parental confidence in local provisions being able to meet the needs of children and young people with SEND. The results of a new Somerset Parent Carer Forum survey, due to be published later in 2021, will help establish any improvements and any further learning in this respect.
- The Local Area needs to improve its response to requests for Statutory Assessments with partners providing timely high-quality advice. Somerset remains below national benchmarks in terms of overall timeliness. However, more recent local performance data indicates an improving picture.
- The CCG Quality Team (Learning Disability and Mental Health) is leading a programme of work to increase the uptake and quality of Annual Health Checks (AHCs) for people with learning disability.
- The CCG has planned to deliver a 28.8% CYPMH access rate in 2020/21 with Somerset Foundation Trust, digital therapy and other tier 2 providers contributing to the Somerset access rate. Somerset’s locally estimated performance is 26.2% for all Providers contributing to the Somerset access rate.
Previous SEND Needs Assessments