This news follows a past controversy around the way in which the Department for Education collected information regarding children out of school. Last year the National Education Union highlighted the discrepancy, finding that more than 4,000 children with an Education Health and Care Plan (ECHP) in 2017 had no educational provision and were therefore not in school at all. (1)

This figure had by that stage increased five-fold in just five years. Since 2017, according to the DfE’s own statistics, that figure has now doubled.

Acting on the NEU’s concerns, the DfE pledged to be more thorough with their collection of pupil data. As a result we can see that thousands more children than previously thought are currently receiving no form of schooling at all. (2)

Reacting to the findings, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“We welcome the Department for Education’s efforts to make public the true situation for far too many young people with SEND, but it only serves to demonstrate the parlous state we are in. The fact that over 8,500 young people with SEND are currently not receiving any form of education is appalling and shows the Government has not listened to teachers and parents who are tirelessly campaigning for more funding.

“This week’s court case, in which a group of parents have taken legal action against the Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer, highlights the severity of the current situation in SEND, as well as the determination of families, schools and activists to fight for a fair education for all.

“The NEU will continue to campaign for our schools to get the funding they need to give children the education they deserve.”

Editor’s Note

(1)     An EHCP is a legal document setting out specific additional provision for a pupil with severe and complex SEND, which also entitles them to additional funding for this provision. The stats for 2017 are available here - Statements of SEN and EHC Plans: England, 2017  Table 1. Our April 2018 story was reported here.

(2)     The link below takes you to the document showing 8,587 children with severe SEND have no educational provision at all:

   - ‘National and Local Authority Tables’, then look at Table 1, lines 54-56.



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