One in seven pupils now have a special educational needs diagnosis and require extra support

  • Report from education select committee found 14.9 per cent need extra support
  • Said children having issues picked up correctly as well as earlier led to increase
  • The committee warned help for the 1,318,300 affected is 'letting children down'
  • Often schools do not have the money or means to lay on the support needed

One in seven children now have a special educational needs diagnosis, putting school budgets under pressure, MPs have warned.

A report from the education select committee has found 14.9 per cent of pupils are registered as needing extra support at school this year, following a rise over the past two years.

It said children having issues picked up on correctly as well as earlier – and a higher survival rate for severely disabled children thanks to medical advances – had led to the increase.

It means 1,318,300 pupils now have a diagnosis – but the committee warned help for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is 'piecemeal' and 'letting children down'.

A report from the education select committee has found 14.9 per cent of pupils are registered as needing extra support at school this year, following a rise over the past two years (file photo)

A report from the education select committee has found 14.9 per cent of pupils are registered as needing extra support at school this year, following a rise over the past two years (file photo)

Often schools do not have the money or means to lay on the support needed and the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents heads, said the pressure to deliver on SEND responsibilities is impoverishing schools.

The association's Julie McCulloch said: 'This report lays bare the fact that the Government pulled the rug from under its own laudable plan to improve support for young people who have special educational needs by failing to fund properly the public services responsible for delivering the system. As a result we have under-funded schools and colleges.'

Figures from the Department for Education (DfE) show 14.6 per cent of pupils had SEND last year, while in 2016 and 2017 it was 14.4 per cent. 

The proportion had been falling since 2010, when it peaked at more than 20 per cent. This year's data also gave a breakdown of the types of special needs children had.

The largest group – 22 per cent – were those with 'speech, language and communications needs', followed by 20 per cent with 'moderate learning difficulty' and 17 per cent with 'social, emotional and mental health' needs.

There were 11 per cent with autistic spectrum disorder (an umbrella term which includes autism and Asperger syndrome), while less than 5 per cent had a physical disability or were blind or deaf.

It said children having issues picked up on correctly as well as earlier ¿ and a higher survival rate for severely disabled children thanks to medical advances ¿ had led to the increase (file photo)

It said children having issues picked up on correctly as well as earlier – and a higher survival rate for severely disabled children thanks to medical advances – had led to the increase (file photo)

The data come after education watchdog Ofsted raised fears in 2010 that many pupils were being misdiagnosed with mild SEND when they just needed better pastoral support.

In 2011, the Government moved to tackle 'over-diagnosis' and numbers fell but now the trend is in reverse.

The committee noted the Government recently promised much more support for children with SEND, but this has not properly materialised.

Select committee chairman Robert Halfon said: 'The DfE cannot continue with a piecemeal and reactive approach to supporting children with SEND... What is needed is a transformation, a more strategic oversight and fundamental change to ensure a generation of children is no longer let down.'

A DfE spokesman said: 'No child should be held back from reaching their potential... That's why we recently announced a £780million increase to local authorities' high needs funding, boosting the budget by 12 per cent and bringing the total spent on supporting those with the most complex needs to over £7billion for 2020-21.'

One in seven pupils now have a special educational needs diagnosis and require extra support

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