Special Educational Needs & Disabilities

Home 5 JSNA 5 Start Well 5 Special Educational Needs & Disabilities
1. Background

A child or young person (CYP) has Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) if they have a learning difficulty or disability which calls for special educational provision to be made for them, for example, differentiation in the curriculum, or adult support for specific tasks. 

A child of compulsory school age or a young person has a learning difficulty or disability if he or she, 

  1. has a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of others of the same age, or  
  2. 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. 

    (Source: Legislation.gov.uk) 

    For children aged two or over, “special educational provision” is; “educational or training provision that is additional to, or different from, that made generally for others of the same age” (Source: Legislation.gov.uk). 

    CYP with Special Educational Needs (SEN) who classify as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 (i.e. ‘a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’), are covered by the definition of SEN. 

    Special Educational Needs can result from: 

    • A long-term condition or life-limiting condition, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy 
    • A congenital condition, such as cerebral palsy 
    • A learning disability 
    • Autistic spectrum disorder, including both autism and Asperger syndrome 
    • Serious illness or injury, such as acquired brain injury 
    • A sensory impairment 
    • Behavioural issues 

      (Source: NHS England, 2018) 

      Children with SEND are more likely to experience deprivation, be absent or excluded from school, achieve below their peers, or be out of education. They are less likely to experience a fulfilling education, and leave school with outcomes that signal increased chances of deprivation as adults (Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation). There is also a greater risk of experiencing loneliness if opportunities are limited because of disability. Loneliness can be distressing and is interrelated with feelings of low self-esteem (Source: Loneliness amongst children with special needs).  

      2. Policy Context
      • The SEND Code of Practice 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014 provide guidance for health and social care, education and local authorities to support the delivery of care to CYP with SEND.  
      • Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 supplement the procedural framework for the assessment and decision making for CYP with SEN. 
      • The joint Ofsted and Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection framework evaluates the effectiveness of local areas in identifying, meeting the needs of, and improving outcomes, for CYP with SEND. 
      • The Education Act 1996 sets out the duties of the Secretary of State and local authorities to provide suitable education that meets the needs of CYP. 
      • The Equality Act 2010 sets out legal obligations schools, early years providers, post-16 institutions, and local authorities have for disabled CYP. Obligations include; avoiding discrimination; provision of reasonable adjustments; provision of aids and services; and avoiding disadvantage. 
      • Section 2 Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 sets out local authority duties for assessing need, and providing support services (adaptations, facilitating breaks, etc). 
      • The Children Act 1989 sets out statutory duties that safeguard and promote the welfare of CYP. For CYP under 18, the Act covers residential short breaks, and services provided to children arising from SEN – but unrelated to a disability. This includes all provision secured through a social care direct payment. 
      • Care Act 2014 requires children’s services co-operate with adults’ services such that young adults are not left without care or support as the transition from children’s to adult social care is made. The Act also details duties to ensure care and support for adults. 
      • Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014 stipulate that local authorities must provide information on Personal Budgets. 
      • Working together to safeguard children outlines the expectations that organisations and individuals must fulfil to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. 
      • Lincolnshire’s High Needs Strategy aims to ensure the majority of children with SEN can fulfil their potential in mainstream settings, where practitioners are clear how to meet their needs, and the right support is available to do so, at an early stage. 
      3. Local Picture

      When compared to the national average, Lincolnshire has: 

      • A higher percentage of pupils requiring SEN support 
      • A higher percentage of pupils with an EHC Plan. This percentage is rising both locally and nationally 
      • A similar percentage of pupils receiving SEN Support. This percentage has remained constant nationally but has reduced in Lincolnshire since 2019/20 

      Primary Need 

      Within Lincolnshire’s mainstream and state funded schools, moderate learning difficulties; speech, language and communication needs; and social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) have been identified as the top primary needs for CYP with SEND.  

      For the first time since the introduction of reforms, SEMH has become the highest primary need in Lincolnshire Special Schools, and prevalence is higher than the national average (more than double). Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Severe Learning Difficulty are also common primary needs, as is the case nationally (Source: Local Area SEND report). Read more in the Lincolnshire SEMH Strategy.  

      Educational Provision 

      The majority of CYP with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan are placed in either state-funded mainstream education or state-funded special schools. Except for Boston, the percentage of CYP receiving SEN support has increased recently, markedly in West Lindsey, East Lindsey and South Kesteven. The percentage of CYP with EHC plan has increased both nationally and locally, but has increased at a slower rate in Lincolnshire. Unlike the national trend, the number of new EHC plans for issued in Lincolnshire has reduced, and settings have been enabled to meet need without statutory plans.  

      Figures show that both nationally and locally CYP with no identified SEN achieve higher educational outcomes and are less likely to be absent or excluded from school than those with EHC plans or SEN support. Despite this, the percentage of CYP in education, employment or training at age 17 is similar across these groups. More 17 year olds with EHC plans are in education, employment or training in Lincolnshire (96.3%) than generally across England (90.3%) (Source: National Statistics). 

      SEND prevalence 

      SEND is more prevalent in boys than girls. This is seen for pupils receiving SEN support, and for pupils with an EHC plan. This gender bias is also reported by members of the Lincolnshire Parent Carer Forum(LPCF) who care for a CYP with SEND. 

      The distribution of EHC plans by age and gender in Lincolnshire is broadly similar to the national average. Since 2014, there has been a decrease in EHC plans for 11-15 year olds and an increase for those aged 16-25 years (Source: SEN2 Return).  

      Early Years 

      As of August 2022: 

      Early years Specialist Teachers (EYST) know of an increasing number of pre-school-age children  with parental consent for support from a SEND Coordinator (SENCo, or SENDCo). A similar proportion of children with SENCO support, acknowledged by EYST, were also known to Children’s Services and had some form of support plan secured by (for example) Early Support Co-ordination (ESCO) or Child in Need process. 

      An increasing number of CYP receive Inclusion Funding to allow settings to provide enhanced levels of support. This actual number fluctuates across the academic year as uptake of eligible children increases. Funding is awarded as a top up payment to allow CYP with mild or emerging levels of SEND to access Early Years Entitlement. 

      The most common areas of need for accessing inclusion funding are, 

      • Communication and Interaction. Approximately 75% of applications, this has slowly increased over the past few years. 
      • Emotional, Behavioural and Mental Health  
      • Cognition and Learning  
      • Sensory and Physical  

        (Source: Early Years Inclusion Funding)  

        The application of Inclusion Funding differs between local authorities. This can confuse comparisons of the local to the national situation.  


        In Lincolnshire, the percentage of CYP with a long-term illness, disability or medical condition, medically diagnosed at age 15, is significantly higher than the national average (Source: OHID). In August 2022, 263 CYP were receiving support from the Children with Disabilities Social Care team. All these CYP have severe or profound disabilities. 104 children with disabilities access overnight Short Breaks (Source: LCC MOSAIC case management system).  

        A key Local Authority’s responsibility, for the upper age group of SEND, is an effective and supported transition to adulthood. Indicators of successful transition include; percentage of adults with learning disabilities (receiving support from social care) who live in their own home or with their family; and percentage in employment. These figures are slightly lower in Lincolnshire compared to the national average (Source: Local Area SEND Report, 2022). 

        Key inequalities 

        ThePapworth Trust Facts and Figures Report (2018) identifies inequalities experienced by those with SEND: 

        • It costs three times more to raise a disabled child as it does to raise a non-disabled child; 
        • 84% of mothers of disabled children do not work, compared with 39% of mothers to non-disabled children. Only 3% of mothers of disabled children work full time; 
        • Disability Rights UK estimates 40% of disabled children are living in poverty; 
        • 1 in 6 families (17%) with disabled children go without food, 1 in 5 (21%) go without heating 
        • 1 in 4 (26%) go without specialist equipment or adaptations, and 86% go without leisure activities; 

        A report into Special Educational Needs and their links to poverty concludes children from low-income families are more likely than their peers to be born with inherited SEND; are more likely to develop SEND in childhood; and are less likely to move out of SEND categories while at school. In addition, children with SEND are more likely than their peers to be born into poverty, and more likely to experience poverty growing up. 

        Around 70% of children in care have some form of SEND (Source: SEND Code of Practice, 10.1) 

        4. Local Response

        Lincolnshire is in its eighth year of implementing SEND reforms and has strongly embedded the key principles. The SEND partnership’s ambition is that: 

        • CYP, parents, carers, and professionals understand the help available to them in Lincolnshire. That they have the right support, at the right time, in the right setting. 
        • Mainstream schools feel more confident supporting CYP with SEND. Schools will continue to work with families, so families feel confident in supporting their CYP at home, too. 
        • School exclusions are avoided by ensuring good communication with all services that can help CYP. 
        • High aspirations are maintained for CYP with SEND; there is support for CYP to achieve their goals and thrive academically; CYP become independent adults post-education. 

          A digital version of VSEND complements an Inclusion Toolkit, setting practice standards for Lincolnshire, and provide SENCo and other professionals, with practical support and guidance. The VSEND tool helps settings to develop a single, holistic picture of CYP needs, and the required support for success through the life course.  

          Ask SALL, Lincolnshire’s SEND advice line for SENCo, provides advice and guidance, and, where appropriate, can offer a follow up appointment with an Educational Psychologist. 

          Lincolnshire was chosen to be an early implementer of the National Association of Special Educational Needs (NASEN) NVQ level 3 SENCO award. Over 40, early-years SENCOs, have already completed this, a further 50 are due to train in 2022-23. 

          Lincolnshire Community Health Service provide specialist services, including: 

          • Children’s Therapy Service, for 0-19 years, delivered by an integrated team of occupational, and physiotherapists, and speech and language therapists.  
          • Children and Young People’s Rapid Response Respiratory Service for people up to age 25, with complex physical disabilities and additional respiratory problems. 

          When there are concerns about a child’s development, behaviour, or educational needs, the Community Paediatric Service provide a secondary service for CYP upon referral. Referrals can be made by primary care settings, hospital and community health professionals, schools, and the local education authority. The service accepts referrals up to aged 16 years (or 19 if the child has moved into the area and/ or are placed in a special school). 

          Children’s Community Nursing (CCN) teams provide specialist support, education and direct nursing care for CYP with acute health care needs, long term conditions, and those requiring complex or palliative care within their own home. Care focuses on preventing hospital admission whenever appropriate and facilitating early discharge from hospital. 

          Lincolnshire Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services(CAMHS) support CYP experiencing mental health related issues, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or self-harm. There is additional support for specific groups of CYP with additional needs, such as a learning disability and a mental health problem. 

          Lincolnshire’s Sensory Education and Support Team (SEST) support CYP with sensory impairment in their education setting and/or at home. These CYP may have specialist communication needs (e.g. British Sign Language, Braille and Audio), English as an Additional Language (EAL) or have a disability in addition to their sensory impairment. Social Care teams, SEST, and the NHS work collaboratively to support these CYP 

          The Children’s Integrated Commissioning Team (CICT) has developed a collaborative way of working that addresses underperformance along the ASD/ADHD pathway. The team has implemented a Hub triage model, and a new clinical pathway replaces the ASD/ADHD Interim Pathway. The result has been a significant reduction in waiting times for CYP pending an autism assessment. The CICT has developed a robust and effective health offer for SEND pupils in a locality-based, all-needs school system. The agreed model will ensure equity of access to health and therapeutic interventions, to all special school pupils, as the strategy is implemented, and schools move toward all-needs. 

          The Dynamic Support Register is a collaboration between the Integrated Care Board and the Local Authority that identifies and supports CYP with autism and/or a learning difficulty and can reduce the likelihood of hospital admission. The Local Authority, with key stakeholders, has undertaken extensive Transformation Work, introduced the High Needs Strategy, and numerous tools to meet the needs of CYP with SEND 

          5. Community & Stakeholder Views

          The local authority has a strong record of co-production with parents and CYP in terms of individual EHC Plans, and in capturing ‘the voice of the child’. Family feedback is captured from individual EHC Plans, and via the Lincolnshire Parent Carer Forum (LPCF). 

          Every two years, the LPCF undertake a survey on ‘the state of SEND’ in Lincolnshire. Parents/carers have highlighted that: 

          • 61.9% of CYP with SEND have multiple issues 
          • SEMH, Genetic and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) are increasingly identified by parents. These categories have been added by LPCF. 
          • One fifth of the families that engage have more than one child with a disability in their family 
          • Autism is the leading primary disability/additional need reported. This is followed by ADHD, other (e.g. undiagnosed, Attachment Disorder, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, Pathological Demand Avoidance, Prader-Willi Syndrome, gender identity), SEMH, genetic, medical and dyslexia. 

            Lincolnshire Young Voices (LYV) represent the views of CYP with SENDLYV have supported such developments as: 

            • Improving accessibility of toilets in Lincolnshire 
            • Improving accessibility of local transport providers 
            • Helping organisations know how SEND friendly they are 
            • Helping make Lincolnshire’s Local Offer the best it can be 
            • Helping the people of Lincolnshire know what LYV do and how they can get involved 
            • Launching ‘A Rough Guide to Not Putting Your Foot in It’: online training for the CYP with SEND workforce. Now a nationally recognised guide, LYV won an award for this inspirational training.  

              Lincolnshire Schools and Colleges are actively involved in shaping future support for CYP with SEND. Regular meetings and surveys with SENCo and SEND Leads have enabled the local authority to respond to the challenges identified by education providers in supporting, for example, CYP with challenging behaviours, or those with medical needs. 

              6. Gaps and Unmet Needs
              • Health-related information is required to provide a holistic overview of support provided to CYP with SEND. Information must identify gaps in provision. 
              • Demand outstrips capacity. Despite capital investment to increase the number of Special School places within Lincolnshire, capacity remains an issue 
              • There are continually increasing numbers of CYP with EHC Plans. This is having a major impact on provision of services (staff and resources) and impacts the High Needs Budget. 
              7. Next Steps

              A multi-agency Data Group has been established to focus on all measures that capture provision, across the full range of services that support CYP with SEND. This will compound existing data, identify gaps, and inform future commissioning activities. 

              An extensive SEND Transformation Programme continues and will include developments to support mainstream settings in meeting the needs of SEND pupils. This is intended to reduce a reliance on specialist provision and includes: 

              • The launch of a Workforce Development Strategy. 
              • The introduction of a Social, Emotional and Mental Health Strategy (LCC, the Strategy). 
              • Refinement and embedding of the pathway to support young people with Emotionally Based School Avoidance 

                Collaborative work is underway to provide a response to families and settings where children require support with Sensory Processing Difficulties. 

                A CYP’s Key Worker service is under development in Lincolnshire and will be live from April 2023. The key worker will act as independent advocate on behalf of those with a Learning Disability (LD) and/or Autistic CYP and their parents/carers, where there is a probability of admission to specialist mental health hospital. Key Workers are accessed through the local Dynamic Support Registers (DSRs). This will query, challenge and improve the use of systems and processes, taking into consideration access to Care, Education and Treatment Reviews (CETRs), hopefully preventing avoidable admissions to highly specialist mental health inpatient services. The service will work with partners to identify those at risk of admission earlier, and work so that needs are considered holistically, to deliver the right support in the community. Keyworkers will help young people with LD and/or Autistic CYP and their parents/carers to be heard throughout their involvement with mental health crisis or inpatient services, to ensure they feel informed, supported, and happy with the agreed outcomes, plans, and delivery, throughout the young person’s recovery. This service will be available for 0-25 years when fully established. 

                  Lincolnshire JSNA People