Figures show wider gap in attainment for five-year-olds with SEN

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A more detailed breakdown of the EYFS Profile statistics, published today, shows that the gap has widened between children with special educational needs and their peers.

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Department for Education statistics show that the gap between children with SEN and those with no identified SEN has risen from 42 per cent to 47 per cent in 2014. Just under a fifth of SEN pupils achieved a good level of development compared with two-thirds of children without SEN.

The figures provide a more detailed view by national and local authority area of the results for the EYFSP published last month.

These showed that overall more children were achieving a good level of development – a rise in 9 per percentage points to 60 per cent.

The latest statistics reveal EYFSP whether the attainment gap has widened or narrowed between children at the end of Reception according to gender, ethnicity, eligibility for free school meals, special educational needs, English as a first language, and month of birth.

There has also been no change in the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers at the end of the reception year.

The figures show that there is a difference of 19 percentage points between children eligible for free school meals and their peers, with 45 per cent of poorer children achieving a good level of development, compared to 64 per cent of other pupils.

The gap between summer-born children and others remains high: 71 per cent of pupils born in the autumn term achieved a good level of development compared to 49 per cent of those born in the summer.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said that the disparity between summer-born children highlighted not just the need for adequate support in the early years ‘but also that any assessments that take place as such an early stage of learning accommodate for the significant age gaps between the children undertaking them. This is particularly important given government plans to introduce baseline assessments, which will take place at the beginning, rather than the end, of reception.’

He added the statistics also showed a need for targeted support and intervention in the early years, both ‘practical and financial’ – to support children receiving Free School Meals, those with English as an additional language, and children with special educational needs.

He said, ‘We hope that the new SEND Code of Practice will play a key role in better enabling providers to do so. However, again, without adequate support from government, providers will struggle to deliver the level of tailored care and education needed to adequately support these children.’

Liz Bayram, chief executive of PACEY, said, 'While it is positive that EYFS profile results are improving overall, more work needs to be done to drive sustainable outcomes for all children across the board. Helping families access high quality childcare in a setting which caters for each individual child’s needs is a crucial step in making this happen.

'We are particularly concerned about the widening gap in attainment for children with SEN and believe that the new code of practice will help to address this. We know from our members that targeted early intervention to ensure children get the support they need can really make a difference.'

A DfE spokesperson said, 'It is fantastic news that today’s EYFS statistics show a large increase in all pupils achieving a good level of development - up 9 percentage points from last year. The proportion of SEND pupils achieving good levels has also increased, by 5 percentage points from last year.
 
'However, more can be done and that is why we brought in the biggest reforms for children with SEND in September. We hope this will result in further increases of achievement to the ones seen in today’s figures.'

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