The Department for Education has published annual statistics on the number of children and young people in England who have an education, health and care plan (EHCP) or statement of special educational needs (SEN). 

The figures show that many children have to wait a long time for an EHCP to be put in place, with only 58 per cent of plans completed within the Government’s 20-week time limit. They also show a sharp increase in the number of requests for assessment that have been refused by local authorities.

The new SEN system that was introduced in England in 2014 by the Children and Families Act is due to be fully implemented in every part of the country by April 2018. By this date, every child or young person who still has a statement should have had a review of their needs, and been transferred to an EHCP. But the latest information from the Department for Education shows that progress is slow, which suggests that a large number of children will have to wait longer for a plan that meets the full range of their needs and helps them achieve the best possible outcomes.

Catriona Moore, Education Policy Officer at The National Autistic Society, said:

“Today's figures show that many children and young people are still waiting far too long to get the right education support. Delays spread uncertainty and can be incredibly stressful for families, especially those who are struggling and in desperate need of support.

"It’s worrying to see that there has been such a big increase in the last year in the number of requests for EHCP assessments refused by local authorities. Without carrying out an assessment, it’s impossible to know what a child’s needs are, and there’s a risk that children are going without the support that would help them succeed at school.

"The National Autistic Society strongly urges the next Government to do more to help under pressure local authorities, giving them more time and resources to implement the SEN reforms fully and make sure each child gets the support they need."