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(UK) England: >25K children denied SPED plans last year

June 23, 2023, National World: Special needs children: more than 25k refused assessment for an education, health and care plan in England

Campaigners have warned that being denied an education, health and care (EHC) plan can have lasting effects on the wellbeing of a child and affect their opportunities in later life.

Tens of thousands of children were refused an assessment for an education, health and care (EHC) plan in England last year, raising concerns that disabled children face a postcode lottery in accessing support.

More than a quarter (27.1%) of applications from the West Midlands were found to have been refused last year – 1.7 times more than in the North East which refused only 16.1% of assessments.

Child disability rights campaigners told NationalWorld that stretched council budgets have resulted in “huge variations” across England concerning whether children even receive an assessment to try to access the legal protection….

Last year more than 25,000 applications were thwarted at the first step in England when the initial request for a child to be assessed was turned down, representing 21.9% of all requests, according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE). Of those actually assessed, 5.8% were not given an EHC plan, affecting just under 4,200 children and young people….

There are more than 1.5 million school pupils in England with special educational needs (SEN) – 4.3% of all pupils have a EHC plan. The percentage of all pupils with SEN but no EHC plan (SEN support) has increased to 13.0% from 12.6% in 2022. Almost 400,000 pupils in England have an EHC plan.

The proportion of children and young people being refused an assessment has marginally decreased over the last year, with 2021’s figures showing 22.3% were refused an assessment. However the overall number of applications being refused last year was the highest since current records began.

Stephen Kingdom, campaign manager at The Disabled Children’s Partnership, an umbrella policy organisation made up of over 110 charities, said that not getting an EHC assessment means children are “extremely unlikely” to be able to access extra provision needed at school and at home….

Local level figures show huge differences in the proportion of assessments being refused. Six local authorities were found to have refused at least 40% of EHC assessments. These were:

The Isle of Wight – 43.5% Windsor and Maidenhead – 43.3% Warwickshire – 41.8% Peterborough – 41.1% Leicestershire and Lambeth – both at 40% In total 61 out of 152 local authorities refused at least a quarter or more of EHC assessments.

The regional figures show a similar picture with two-thirds of regions having a refusal rate of above the national average of 21.9%. …


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