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Latest Bristol EHCP Statistics from the Department for Education

Bristol EHCP Data – The Where and the How Many

The Department for Education (DfE) released their latest statistics around Education Health Care Plans (EHCPS) last week.

EHCPs – The National Picture
The stats showed that the total number of EHCPs across England has increased to 576,000 as of the census day in January 2024. This marks a national increase of 11.4 per cent on 2023 numbers.

The data comes from what is known as the SEN2 data collection. In 2023 a change was made from using aggregated figures collected at local authority level to a person level collection. The DfE says that although they have seen a ‘large increase’ in new EHCPs, some of this may be due to ‘improved data quality.’

The data for Bristol City Council for 2023 is certainly strange. A large number of pupils with EHCPs are classified as being at an ‘unknown’ education setting.

EHCPs – The Bristol Picture
So what’s new with the EHCP data for Bristol? Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Send) has been the centre of many political rows since 2016. A failure to get to grips with EHCPs, timeliness and a severe shortage of specialist school places dogged the former Labour administration. The system was headed by former mayor Marvin Rees until May this year. Bristol voted for the mayoral system to be replaced by a committee system leaving the mayoral role defunct. A parting shot by the administration caused educational outrage over a secret Safety Valve deal done behind closed doors with the DfE.

So how do claims of rising numbers of pupils with EHCPs in Bristol, including those at specialist independents, actually hold up with the data?

The Bristol Population
According to Bristol City Council, the population of Bristol is estimated to be 479,000 people. The city’s population grew by an estimated 45,800 people between 2012 – 22, a growth of 10.6 per cent. Currently, children in the city make up 17.2 per cent of the total population.

As well as growth, there has been a decline in the number of births, both factors causing chaos in Bristol’s school places allocation.

In 2012, the number of births peaked at 6,781. Often described as the ‘bulge year’ it caused a critical lack of places in primary and then secondary education in some parts of the city. New schools were desperately needed. Whilst this was merely a statistical issue for Bristol, the fact that a population increase in the city also led to urgent increasing need for specialist school places was treated like an inconvenience.

Families campaigning for more mainstream school places were doing what was best for the child population. Families campaigning for more specialist school places were troublesome and problematic.

The school population in Bristol has grown from 69,412 in the academic year of 2020/2021 to 70,774 in the academic year 2023/24. It stands to reason that there would also be a natural increase in the city’s Send population.

But come 2022, there was a 26 per cent drop in births down to 5,048. This caused a new issue with falling rolls, leading to several primary schools being closed over the last five years.

As well as issues with school places, Bristol City Council’s latest published data for July 2023, shows that the highest number of EHCPs were disproportionately held by children and young people in the most deprived areas of the city. These areas feature large council estates and areas of social housing.

The July 2023 data shows Hartcliffe and Withywood to have extremely high numbers of EHCPs, highlighting serious intersectional issues that can be found in south Bristol.

Hartcliffe and Withywood: 372
Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston: 293
Filwood: 251
Lawrence Hill: 245
Henbury and Brentry: 196

Below is some of the Bristol data for EHCPs from the SEN2

The number of new EHCPs
2022: 788
2023: 820

The number of EHCPS in total
2020: 2,700
2021: 3,124
2022: 3,424
2023: 3,709
2024: 4,382

The number of pupils in mainstream education with an EHCP in Bristol, has been consistently below the England national average since 2020 – shown in the data block below.

Mainstream School
Bristol: 829 (30.7%)
England Average: 39%

Bristol: 1064 (34.1%)
England Average: 39%

Bristol: 1251 (36.5%)
England Average: 40.5 %

Bristol: 1090 (29.4%)
England Average: 41.3%

Bristol: 1898 (43.3)
England Average: 43.3%

When it comes to specialist school places, the number of pupils with an EHCP has consistently dropped from 2022. The current number also sits below the England national average – shown in the data block below.

Specialist School
Bristol: 1070 (39.6%)
England Average: 32.9%

Bristol: 1139 (36.5%)
England Average: 35.8%

Bristol: 1204 (35.2%)
England Average: 35.2%

Bristol: 840 (22.7%)
England Average: 33.2%

Bristol: 1325 (30.2%)
England Average: (32.3%)

The following data shows specialist school places in Bristol broken down more specifically by the DfE.

Despite supporting hundreds of pupils, data for Hospital Education currently shows no pupils on roll. This could be due to the pupils being dual rolled and counted with their original school. But what it does is disguise how many Send pupils are on the roll of the Bristol Hospital Education Service.

In June 2023, Ofsted reported that there were 382 pupils on roll aged 5 – 9 years of age with 06 in sixth form.

The number of pupils at independent specialists has grown slightly since 2020, although dipped in the middle years. However, the percentage of pupils with an EHCP at a specialist independent school is lower now than four years ago.

The number of students in Alternative Provision has grown after a dip, although the numbers are still significantly lower than four years ago – shown in the data block below.

Alternative Provision/Pupil Referral Unit
2020: 117
2021: 40
2022: 36
2023: 20
2024: 71

High numbers of pupils are now logged as being ‘educated elsewhere’. This might include numbers of pupils who have plans that include Education Otherwise Than At School (EOTAS) – shown in the data block below.

Educated Elsewhere
2020: 24
2021: 48
2022: 80
2023: 41
2024: 188

Further Education
2020: 473
2021: 576
2022: 607
2023: 15
2024: 735

2020: 178
2021: 229
2022: 209
2023: 42
2024: 131

Non-maintained Early Years
2020: 09
2021: 26
2022: 34
2023: 04
2024: 24

2020: 0
2021: 02
2022: 03
2023: 0
2024: 10

The number of cases of children and young people who had an ‘unknown’ setting in 2023 has skewed the data, making it hard to draw comparisons – shown in the data block below.

2023: 1657
2024: 0

When it comes to EHCPs broken down by male, female and not known, the split shows worrying systemic bias. Male pupils more than double the number of female pupils – shown in the data block below.

Female: 1,121 (30.2%)
Male: 2,586 (69.7%)
Not Known: 02 (0.1%)

Female: 1,351 (30.8%)
Male: 3,031 (62.2%)
Not Known: 0 (0%)

The numbers of Send pupils in Elective Home Education has grown over the last four years. In July 2023, Bristol City Council statistics shows there were 572 children and young people in Elective Home Education, though only 06 with an EHCP – shown in the data block below.

2020: 10 (0.4%)
2021: 7 (0.2)
2022: 11 (0.3)
2023: 06 (0.2%)
2024: 31 (07%)

What’s interesting about Send and home education comes from comparing this to Bristol City Council’s own data from July 2023.

Again, the highest number of electively home educated pupils can be found in Bristol’s most deprived areas – areas characterised by council estates and social housing.

Hartcliffe and Withywood: 57
Ashley: 43
Lawrence Hill: 39
Southmead: 36
Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston: 33

Further statistics show there were no pupils with an EHCP awaiting provision. The number of pupils with ‘other arrangements’ made by the council has really grown in numbers – shown in the data block below.

Other arrangements made by the Local Authority
2020: 10 (0.4%)
2021: 15 (0.5%)
2022: 32 (0.9)
2023: 34 (0.9)
2024: 89 (2.0)

Data also shows pupils with an EHCP whose parents made ‘other arrangements’ that were not classed as Elective Home Education – shown in the data block below.

Other arrangements by parents
2020: 0 (0%)
2021: 06 (0.2%)
2022: 12 (0.4%)
2023: 01 (0.0%)
2024: 14 (0.3)

The new 2024 stats also showed that in Bristol, there were 29 pupils of Compulsory School Age with and EHCP who were not in any education – shown in the data block below.

Not in education or training – Compulsory School Age
2024: 29 (0.7%)

The final set of data includes that around timeliness, tribunals and discontinuing plans. Whilst Education Health Care Needs Assessments (EHCNA) come in, many plans each year are discontinued.

Families are also able to challenge local authority decisions through mediation or appealing at the First-tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability)

The final data block below shows some of the numbers around these areas.

Decision on whether to issue a plan was the subject of an appeal to tribunal
2022: 18
2023: 05

Decision to issue a plan was referred for mediation
2022: 20
2023: 13

EHC plans discontinued
2023: 265

EHC plans discontinued – reached maximum age
2022: 289
2023: 02

EHC plans discontinued – special needs being met without an EHC plan (non-compulsory school age)
2022: 10
2023: 12

EHC plans discontinued – transferred to another LA (compulsory school age)
2022: 76
2023: 63

EHC plans discontinued – transferred to another LA (non-compulsory school age)
2022: 48
2023: 32

Initial requests for assessment – withdrawn
2022: 0
2023: 02

Mediation for any reason other than the decision not to assess or the decision not to issue a plan
2022: 22
2023: 0

Number of children and young people assessed for whom it was decided not to issue an EHC plan

2022: 53
2023: 50

Number of initial requests for assessment for an EHC plan that were refused
2022: 241
2023: 244

Number of mediation cases that have been held

2022: 82
2023: 40

Timeliness – Number of EHC plans excluding exceptions
2022: 774
2023: 693

Timeliness – Number of EHC plans excluding exceptions issued within 20 weeks
2022: 297
2023: 396

Timeliness – Number of EHC plans including exceptions
2022: 780
2023: 697

Timeliness – Number of EHC plans including exceptions issued within 20 weeks
2022: 297
2023: 397

Timeliness – Rate of EHC plans excluding exceptions issued within 20 weeks
2022: 38.1
2023: 57.0

Timeliness – Rate of EHC plans including exceptions issued within 20 weeks
2022: 38.1
2023: 57.0

Total number of assessments undertaken
2022: 859
2023: 808

Total tribunals
2022: 77
2023: 11

Tribunal for any reason other than the decision not to assess or the decision not to issue a plan
2022: 28
2023: 0

Decision to assess was referred for mediation
2022: 40
2023: 27

Decision to assess was the subject of an appeal to tribunal
2022: 31
2023: 06

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