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Special Educational Needs: preparing for the future

A child or young person has special educational needs (SEN) if they have a learning difficulty, disability or health condition which calls for special educational provision to be made for them. There are four broad areas of need defined in the legislation:

  • communication and interaction;
  • cognition and learning;
  • social, mental and emotional health;
  • sensory and/or physical.


Both councils and schools have duties to provide support for children with SEN. The forthcoming Children and Families Bill will alter the way support is provided.

This report focuses on the role of councils. We examine the human impact of some of the common issues we find, and we hope it will inform the way councils approach the new arrangements to avoid problems of the past.

In 2013, 19% of pupils in all schools across England were pupils with SEN. Of those, 2.8% had assessed needs within statements of SEN. The percentage of pupils with statements has remained at 2.8% of the overall school population for the last five years.1