National Assembly for Wales publishes SEN statistics

The National Assembly for Wales Research Service issued a new publication in August called SEN statistics: Number of pupils, budgeted expenditure, and academic achievement which:

…provides some statistics on learners in Wales with Special Educational Needs (SEN): how many there are and what tier of support is provided, how much money is budgeted to meet their needs, and how well they achieve compared to their peers.

Amongst the figures it gives is the number of pupils with SEN, so we can see that in January 2014 there were 12, 437 pupils with SEN with a statement and 92,520 with SEN but without a statement meaning that there are a total of 104,957 pupils ( not including children/young people from relevant early year settings and further education colleges) who would be potentially eligible for an Independent Development Plan (IDP) under the proposed SEN reforms, which could explain some stakeholders’ concerns about resources and capacity issues.

On the subject of SEN expenditure, the paper points out on page 7 that the Welsh Government commissioned Deloitte to undertake a study of the costs of the current system, details of which are included in the Draft Explanatory Memorandum Incorporating the Draft Regulatory Impact Assessment and Draft Explanatory Notes (Chapter 7, p. 62) which accompanied the draft ALN and Educational Tribunal (Wales) Bill. It is worth noting that the Welsh Government itself has pointed out the figures it has used in costing the proposed SEN reforms are “best estimates” due to the way schools record information about their spending on SEN:

We have used the findings in the Deloitte report to inform our cost benefit analysis. However as Deloitte note in their report: ‘It was apparent … that the information needed … is simply not recorded at the present time, including a lack of records on how much is spent meeting SEN/LDD needs as well as cost information at a process level. For example schools record how much they spend on salaries, equipment…but they do not analyse their spending into particular functions.’…Therefore, all costs within this RIA should be considered as best estimates based on the findings of the Deloitte report and the available evidence.

Page 5 of the paper details the budgeted expenditure local authorities in Wales have spent on SEN and I’ve copied three key figures below. Again, it is worth noticing that the amount of the local authorities’ SEN budgets delegated to the schools has risen steadily from 22% in 2010-11 to reach 72% in 2015-16.

  • Total budgeted expenditure on SEN in 2015-16 across Wales is £356.306 million. This is a 0.2% decrease from 2014-15 and 0.8% fall from 2013-14 when funding was at its highest. However, budgeted expenditure has risen by 4.3% since 2010-11.
  • £789 is budgeted for SEN in 2015-16 per pupil (all pupils not SEN cohort). This has reduced from £792 in 2014-15 and £796 in 2013-14 but has increased from £754 in 2010-11.
  • The delegation rate for SEN expenditure across Wales in 2015-16 is 72%. This means that £72 of every £100 budgeted for SEN is passed by local authorities to schools themselves. The delegation rate has risen in each of the last five years from 55% in 2010-11
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