Newham gives a statement of special educational needs to far fewer children than all the other London boroughs. The average rate for London is 2.8% of pupils. In Newham it is just 0.8%.
37,000 of London’s 1.4 million pupils have a statement of special educational needs, the formal document that details their learning difficulties and the help that is to be provided for them. The rate for London is in line with the national average and has been steady for the past 7 years. In Newham the rate has been falling since 2002.
There are some modest variations in rates across boroughs but the lower rate for Newham stands out. The data produced by local autorities for the Department of Education shows that in the neigbouring boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Barking and Dagenham it is 3.6% and 2.3%. The low rate for the City of London can be explained by the small number of pupils there. Newham had 57,600 school pupils in 2014. Redbridge, Barnet and Ealing had similar numbers and their rate of statements is in line with London and national averages.
Newham says that it operates a different system to other boroughs providing funding to schools for special educational needs support without formal statements. It says that 2.4% of childern, covering those with and without statements, are receiving such funding in the borough.
A request for a formal statement can be made by parents or a school. The council then decides whether or not to assess the child. An assessment may include talking to the parents, school, doctors, educational psychologists and, in some instances, social services. If a statement is issued it will give details of the child’s needs and an undertaking of the help to be provided. Parents are also given the right to choose a school for their child.
The most frequent reason for a statement according to the Department for Education is to support a child who is on the autistic spectrum.
Many children without a formal statement receive additional support in schools. The most frequent need is to help children with behavioural, emotional or social difficulties.