Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) JSNA Published

SENDThe SEND needs assessment brings together a wealth of work to understand the views and needs of children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities. Its primary purpose is to inform commissioning at both strategic and operational levels, so that services are tailored to need and based on evidence.

A child or young person has SEN if they have a learning difficulty or disability that means they need special educational provision or support to help them learn.  Under the Equality Act 2010, a disability is defined as ‘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.’ For further clarification on the definitions of SEND used in this report please go to Section 1.2 Definitions and Scope.

Please click here for the full report.

What does the report tell me?

Key findings

The key findings from the report are as follows:

What do children and young people say?

  • Children and young people with SEND are keen to have their say.
  • However, there have been limited opportunities for children to influence planning at a strategic level.
  • Services are routinely involving children and young people but the extent to which this is done is not consistent.
  • Work is underway to ensure that coproduction with young people is a priority and becomes embedded throughout the SEND programme.

What do parents and carers say?

  • Opportunities for coproduction with parents and carers are increasing, with parents being represented on every workstream for the SEND programme.
  • Family Voice Warwickshire provides a forum for continuous feedback from parents and carers and gets actively involved in service development.
  • Parents would like to see more joined-up planning between services so they only have to tell their story once, particularly where the child has multiple or complex needs.
  • Parents would like more support at points of transition, and particularly in the preparation for adulthood.
  • Parents feel that waiting times for specific services are too long, e.g. occupational therapy.
  • Parents value some of the specific services already in place, e.g. short breaks, and are unhappy about budget savings in these areas.
  • Parents place high importance on overnight respite services, as a preventative measure for helping their families cope with their everyday pressures.
  • Parents have reservations about the implementation of personal budgets, both in the time and skill needed to manage them, and in the availability of good services in the marketplace.
  • Parents were unsure of the draft local offer. Parents have been involved in the relaunch of a revised version of the local offer website and continue to be involved in its development.
  • Parents are feeding back informally to professionals but there is no consistent feedback mechanism across services and this information is not being gathered centrally.

SEND population overview

  • Looking at multiple sources, we know there are 11,886 children and young people with SEND in Warwickshire. However, disability is likely to be under-reported within this number.
  • The January 2016 school census reported that of 78,892 pupils attending Warwickshire state-funded primary, secondary and special schools, 8,852 (2%) were receiving SEN support and 2,438 (3.1%) had a statement or EHC plan, giving a total of 11,290 (14.3%) pupils with an assessed SEN at any level.
  • The district distribution of SEN largely follows that of the general child population.
  • Two-thirds of Warwickshire’s known SEND population are boys and over half are aged 5–16.

Early years

  • Understanding needs emerging through the early years is an important predictor of future need and service planning.
  • Speech, communication and language needs are overwhelmingly the most frequently recorded for children aged under five, possibly indicating an increase in future needs in other areas of learning if these are not addressed during the early years.
  • There is potentially a growing need in Nuneaton & Bedworth, with a higher than expected proportion of the 0–5 SEND population coming from the area.
  • Achievement for Warwickshire children in the early years is slightly better than the national average overall. However, the gap between those receiving SEN support and those with no identified SEN is wider than average.

School years

  • The proportion of school-aged children with identified SEND continues to decrease both locally and nationally. However, the proportion of pupils with a formal statement or EHC plan has stabilised.
  • Moderate learning difficulty is the most frequently recorded primary need for school-aged children in Warwickshire who are identified as having SEN. Levels of incidence are above both the national and statistical neighbour averages and are higher than prevalence estimates would predict.
  • This is mirrored by a lower than average incidence of speech, communication and language needs (SCLN) among those who are identified as having SEN, begging the question whether there is a level of unidentified SCLN in Warwickshire that is manifesting itself in behavioural, learning, or mental health difficulties later on.
  • There is a slight over-representation of children and young people with SEND in Nuneaton & Bedworth, and a slight under-representation in North Warwickshire. There is also a notable group of children with SEND who live outside of Warwickshire but attend Warwickshire schools, therefore increasing the demand for support services.
  • Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils in Warwickshire with an EHC plan or statement tend to do better than their peers elsewhere, although those receiving SEN support do not perform as well against comparators and performance has declined. At GCSE level this trend is reversed.
  • Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is the most commonly recorded need for school-aged children on Warwickshire’s disability register.
  • A quarter of Warwickshire’s current children in need have a recorded primary need of disability.

Transition years

  • Because data sources are largely education based, gaps begin to appear in our knowledge about the SEND population after they leave school. This is particularly true for young people without a formal EHC plan or statement in place and for young people past the age of 18 (i.e. once initial post-16 education or training has been completed).
  • The post-16 needs assessment reports that there has been a rise in the Key Stage 4 SEND population over the last three years. This will have an inevitable impact on post-16 needs in the coming years.
  • The most commonly recorded primary needs among the 17+ SEND population are specific learning difficulties and ASD.
  • More than a quarter of Warwickshire’s 17+ SEND population come from the Rugby area.

Communication and interaction needs

 Applying national prevalence estimates to the Warwickshire child population, we might expect there to be:

  • 8,707 children with speech, communication and language needs
  • 1,444 children with some form of ASD
  • 1,832 up to the age of 25 with some form of ASD
  • 6,220 to 20,732 with sensory processing difficulties.

Local data about children and young people in Warwickshire shows:

  • 1,847 have SCLN as their primary need.
  • 1,375 have ASD as their primary need.
  • There is an unknown level of sensory processing needs, which may be hidden by other diagnosed disorders.

Cognition and learning needs

 Applying national prevalence estimates to the Warwickshire child population, we might expect there to be:

  • 2,245 children and young people with some form of learning difficulty
  • 1,684 children being supported in school because of their learning difficulty
  • 1,347 children to have a moderate level of learning difficulty
  • 84 children to have profound or multiple learning difficulties.

Local data about children and young people in Warwickshire shows:

  • 5,429 are known to have some form of learning difficulty as their primary need.
  • 3,798 have moderate learning difficulties.
  • 1,359 have specific learning difficulties.
  • 237 have severe learning difficulties.
  • 35 have profound or multiple learning difficulties.

Social, emotional and mental health needs

 Applying national prevalence estimates to the Warwickshire child population, we might expect there to be:

  • 7,118 children and young people with a diagnosable mental health disorder
  • Up to 6,179 children and young people who deliberately self-harm
  • 4,301 with a conduct disorder
  • 2,447 with an anxiety disorder
  • 1,112 with severe attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
  • 667 suffering from severe depression

Local data about children and young people in Warwickshire shows:

  • 2,055 children and young people have social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) as their primary need.
  • 8,901 children and young people were referred to Warwickshire specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in the three years April 2013 to March 2016.
  • Mental health services are supporting a large and growing number of children and young people with ASD needs.

Sensory and/or physical needs

 Applying national prevalence estimates to the Warwickshire child population, we might expect there to be:

  • 3,446 with problems around stamina, breathing or fatigue
  • 2,419 children and young people with mobility problems
  • 1,152 with dexterity problems
  • 400 with a life-limiting condition
  • Between 328 and 922 blind or partially sighted children and young people
  • Between 369 and 922 deaf children and young people
  • 179 children and young people living with deafblindness.

Local data about children and young people in Warwickshire shows:

  • 381 have physical disability as their primary need.
  • 144 have hearing impairment as their primary need.
  • 118 have visual impairment as their primary need.
  • 15 have multisensory impairment as their primary need.
  • There has been a rise in the number of children with physical needs being referred to paediatric occupational therapy in recent years.

Data challenges and concerns

 Warwickshire already knows a lot about its SEND population and has analysed this through previous needs assessments and dataset reports.

  • However, it is challenging to gain an overview of the SEND population, as it covers such a wide and diverse group of children and young people.
  • Needs are individual and often complex, meaning children are known to multiple services and information about their needs is held in different and incompatible systems.
  • Although it is widely known that children often have multiple rather than mutually exclusive needs, little data and evidence is available to understand this. Secondary needs are optional and therefore often not recorded, so co-occurrence is not analysed.
  • The disability register is known to be incomplete at the moment, and work is underway to improve the data it collects.


  • A wide range of services are in place to support the diverse and complex needs of Warwickshire’s SEND population.
  • Services are generally reporting high referral rates and there is concern about increasing demand. This is particularly noted among the 0–3 age group, and this will have an impact on future services for school-aged children and beyond.
  • There is concern that many services do not cover the 19–25 age group, allowing young people to be left without sufficient support in the transition years if adult service criteria are not met. This may be an increasing issue as the 16+ SEND population is predicted to rise.
  • SENDIAS (information, advice and support service) report that 70% of referrals regard either SEMH (42%, increasing) or ASD (28%, decreasing), potentially indicating the need to improve and develop pathways and provision for these needs.
  • A number of services, e.g. short breaks, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and home–school transport, have recently been reviewed as part of tendering and savings exercises. New models have been introduced which will need time to demonstrate their impact.
  • Services are generally distributed well across the county, many with north and south bases. However, these will need to be mapped in more detail within the market position statement to understand whether they are truly accessible and meeting local needs.

Please click here for the full report.


The key findings from this report indicate several areas in which SEND services and Warwickshire’s understanding of SEND needs could be improved. The SEND programme board should consider the following recommendations when determining its action plan for the short to medium term.

Commissioning recommendations

  • Continue to embed coproduction throughout the SEND programme at a strategic commissioning level. Services should be designed in collaboration with children, their families, and service providers.
  • Develop a consistent and overarching strategy for coproduction (with both children and parents/carers) for all SEND services. There should be a mechanism to ensure that feedback and suggestions at an individual level are gathered centrally and used to inform service commissioning and redesign.
  • Commission SEND services on the basis of the outcomes required and the needs to be met. This may involve redesigning the local offer to be less service led, under the guidance of families that use it.
  • Commission SEND services using a joined-up approach from the highest strategic level. This may involve pooled budgets and joint contracts.
  • Use this needs assessment as the basis for a market position statement, to analyse whether the right services are available to meet current and future SEND needs. This should then go on to inform the authority’s commissioning intentions.
  • Ensure the market position statement maps the availability of services by area. Nuneaton & Bedworth has a significant and potentially growing need for SEND support.
  • Identify ways to narrow the gap between the achievement of children receiving SEN support and their peers, both locally and against national comparators.
  • Improve and develop pathways and provision for children and young people with SEMH and ASD needs.
  • Ensure that Warwickshire is in a satisfactory position to respond to the increasing demand for 0–3 services and the predicted growth in the 16+ SEND population. In turn, commissioners need to look to the future and the impact of these growth areas on demand for school-age services and 18+ services in the coming years.
  • Continue to work with adult services to ensure a seamless transition for those aged 19–25. The market position statement should analyse the age ranges covered by relevant services to ensure we are meeting our statutory duties right up to the age of 25. This will become even more crucial as more young people keep their EHC plans past the age of 18, when previously their statement would have ceased.

 Operational recommendations

  • Continue to embed coproduction throughout the SEND programme at an operational level. Individual services should have the voices of children and their families at the heart of service planning and process improvement, e.g. the EHC assessment process.
  • Work towards a joint operational model, in line with the joint commissioning model, which will give families a smoother pathway through services (‘tell once’). Services should be joined up from the early help stage and seamless pathways should include the EHC process and social care assessment.

Data recommendations

  • Analyse data from the early years frequently to inform future commissioning of SEND services.
  • Report data from early years health checks (e.g. speech, language and communication screening) regularly to ensure emerging needs are being identified and addressed quickly.
  • Continue to develop the disability register in collaboration with parents, so that it becomes a reliable source of information about children with SEND.
  • Make secondary need categories expected rather than optional throughout the authority’s datasets, e.g. CareFirst/Mosaic, disability register, school census. Make best use of the authority’s new databases in order to do this, e.g. influencing the development of Synergy, the new management information system. This would allow further research and analysis on the co-occurrence of needs.
  • Continue to report on the SEND minimum dataset at least annually, as the most comprehensive picture of Warwickshire’s SEND population.
  • Develop the SEND minimum dataset to include (1) data sources for the post-16 age group and (2) the disability register once it is known to be more reliable.
  • Update key elements from this needs assessment continuously as new data becomes available. This includes attainment data for children with SEND, which could also be incorporated into the annual minimum dataset.

Recommendations for further work

  • Undertake further work to understand why Warwickshire has a higher than expected recorded rate of MLD. This should be considered in conjunction with the lower than expected levels of SCLN and SEMH as primary needs, and the co-occurrence of these needs.
  • Undertake further analysis to understand the levels of sensory processing needs in Warwickshire, and how these are currently being responded to by parents and services. This could take the form of a mini needs assessment, considering service models from elsewhere and drawing upon research to inform future commissioning.

Please click here for the full report.


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