How many times have you wished you'd had the benefit of foresight or hindsight when making business decisions? Speak to one of our experts today.

News and Events

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Statistics 2023

The government’s annual SEND statistics for 2022/23 have recently been released, revealing overwhelming figures and somewhat alarming results. The statistics can be accessed directly here.

As a starting point, in the 2022/23 academic year, 14,000 SEN appeals were registered; an increase of 24% from the 2021/22 academic year. This goes some way to explain the ongoing delays with the SEND Tribunal at the moment, with parents waiting nearly a year for their appeal to be heard by the Tribunal. 

Of the 14,000 SEN appeals registered, 28% were against a refusal to secure an EHC assessment, while a total of 58% were in relation to the content of an EHCP. Appeals against the contents of an EHCP can include Sections B, F and I, and the Tribunal also has extended powers to make recommendations in respect of health and social care. This has been the most common type of appeal for some time. 

Interestingly, the most common type of educational need identified in appeals continues to be Autistic Spectrum Disorder, accounting for 45% of all SEN appeals.
12,000 outcomes in relation to SEN appeals were recorded in 2022/23, which includes appeals conceded, decided and withdrawn. Of these outcomes, 68% of cases were decided by the Tribunal. Overwhelmingly, 98% of the cases decided were in favour of the Appellant. This is a 2% increase from 2021/22. It should be noted, however, that this does not mean that all aspects of the appeal were determined in favour of the Appellant, but that parents were successful at least in part in 98% of cases.

It is hugely concerning that Local Authorities continue to act unreasonably and defend cases where they have such limited prospects of success, at a significant cost to the public purse. Matt Keer, on behalf of the Special Needs Jungle, estimates that Local Authorities allocated £99.2 million to defending Tribunal appeals in 2022/23. Please see their blog here, which provides for an interesting read.

Of the Section I decision notices analysed for the academic year 2022/23, 33% resulted in the parental preference, 27% resulted in the parent and LA preference (when the LA agrees with the parent at a hearing), 11% resulted in the LA preference and 10% resulted in neither, which is when the type of school is in contention and is therefore determined by the court. The remaining 19% of cases could not be determined for reasons such as insufficient information. Outcomes also differ depending upon educational need, with cases for Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Moderate Learning Difficulty resulting in the parent or parent and LA preference in 58% and 63% of cases respectively. 

As highlighted above, parents have an extremely high prospect of success at Tribunal, being successful at least in part in 96% of appeals in 2021/22 and 98% in 2022/23. We would therefore strongly encourage all parents who are unhappy with a decision made by their Local Authority in respect of their child’s special educational needs to challenge this decision via the SEND Tribunal. If you would like some further advice regarding the appeals process, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist SEN lawyers today. Our team of experts are able to assist parents by way of providing impartial and detailed initial advice, preparing and lodging an appeal on your behalf and assisting throughout the entire Tribunal process. Our specialist solicitors can also provide representation at the final hearing.

The Tribunal process can be complex and daunting for parents, so we aim to utilise our knowledge and experience of education law to make the experience as seamless as possible and achieve great results for our clients. 

If you would like to discuss your matter further with one of our specialist education solicitors, please contact us on 0333 202 7175 or Our education lawyers are here to help!