UK (England) - Country Background Information

Describing the forms of education in the country

The EASIE data collection covers all recognised forms of education at ISCED levels 02, 1, 2 and 3.

This means any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector: municipality, local or regional educational provider from the public or private sector, working with/for ministries responsible for education and areas such as health, social, welfare, labour, justice, etc.

What is the compulsory education age range in the country?


Learners must then do one of the following until they are 18:

  • stay in full-time education, for example at a school or college
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part-time education or training.

What are the typical age ranges for the ISCED levels?

2–5 5–11 11–13 14–15
Is private sector education covered by the data provided for the country?

The private sector is generally regarded to be schools that are independent and that charge for attendance.

There are some independent schools that specialise in SEN: independent special schools. These are not included in the data.

Private early years providers (such as private nursery schools) are included within ISCED level 02.

There is also a small group of non-maintained special schools (NMSS) approved by the Secretary of State for Education under Section 342 of the Education Act 1996 as independent special schools. To be approved, NMSS have to:

  • be non-profit making;
  • have demonstrated that they operate to a level at least equivalent to state-maintained special schools;
  • have their day-to-day running controlled by a governing body, the articles and instruments of which will be agreed by the Secretary of State.

NMSS are included in the data.

Is recognised public or private education organised by sectors other than education (i.e. health, social, welfare, labour, justice, etc.) in the data provided for the country?
Are there recognised forms of alternative education covered by the data provided for the country?

Pupil referral units (PRUs) and Alternative Provision Academies/Free Schools are included in the data provided. These settings teach children who aren’t able to attend school and may not otherwise receive suitable education. This could be because they have a short- or long-term illness, have been excluded or are a new starter waiting for a mainstream school place.

Are there recognised forms of home schooling covered by the data provided for the country?
Identifying an ‘inclusive setting’ in the country

In the EASIE data collection, an inclusive setting is operationally defined as:

A recognised form of education where the child/learner follows education in mainstream classes alongside their peers for the largest part – 80% or more – of the school week.

The 80% time placement benchmark clearly indicates that a child/learner is educated in a mainstream class for the majority of their school week. At the same time, it acknowledges possibilities for small group or one-to-one withdrawal for limited periods of time (i.e. 20% or one day a week).

Very few participating countries can provide exact data on children/learners spending 80% of their time in a mainstream group/class. However, all countries can apply one of three agreed proxies that provide an approximation to this benchmark:

  • Placement in a mainstream class implies over 80% or more
  • Data is available on the number of hours of support allocated to a child/learner
  • Placement in a mainstream class implies over 50% or more.
Are you able to provide actual data to verify the 80% placement benchmark?
If no, which proxy are you using
Placement in a mainstream class implies 80% or more
What an ‘official decision of SEN’ means in the country

In the EASIE data collection, the agreed operational definition is:

An official decision leads to a child/learner being recognised as eligible for additional educational support to meet their learning needs.

Countries may have different types of official decision, but for all official decisions:

  • There has been some form of educational assessment procedure involving different people. This procedure may involve the child/learner, parents, school-based team members, as well as professionals from multi-disciplinary teams from outside the child’s/learner’s (pre-)school.
  • There is some form of legal document (plan/programme, etc.) that describes the support the child/learner is eligible to receive, which is used as the basis for decision-making.
  • There is some form of regular review process of the child/learner’s needs, progress and support.
Please describe what an ‘official decision’ is in the country.

An official decision of SEN in the data provided corresponds to the awarding of an Education, Health and Care plan to a child or young person with complex needs.

What educational assessment procedures are carried out and who is involved?

An Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment is an assessment of a child or young person’s education, health and care needs. Following a request for an assessment, where a local area agrees that the individual may have SEN, an assessment is undertaken. This involves accessing advice and information from education, health and social care professionals, as well as (critically) from the parent and the child/young person. The assessment should be completed within 20 weeks.

Each local area (there are 151 local authorities in 2019/20) organises its multi-disciplinary teams according to local arrangements – there is no national template. However, the SEN legislation requires all the agencies to work together and co-operate with each other in undertaking SEN assessments, in order to reach a holistic view of the child/learner.

What formal, regular review processes of a child/learner’s needs, progress and support are linked to an official decision?

At least once a year, the Education, Health and Care plan must be reviewed to see if it:

  • is still required;
  • needs updating (amending).

The meeting is usually held in the setting where the child or young person is studying. Where required, an EHC plan can remain in place up to the age of 25 years.

What ‘out-of-education’ means in the country

Within the EASIE data collection, specific questions examine children/learners who are out of education. This means children/learners who should, by law, be in some form of recognised education, but who are out of any form of recognised education. A recognised form of education is any type of education organised by or approved by any recognised educational provider in the public or private sector.

Is there a formal definition of ‘out-of-education’ in the country?
Please describe which learners are considered ‘out-of-education’ in the country

This refers to:

  • children/learners who are being educated at home;
  • young people aged 16 to 19 who are not in employment, education or training.

All parents have a legal right to educate their child at home. This extends to those who have SEN. Where the child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan, the local authority must be satisfied that the parents can make the necessary provision for their child before agreeing to this arrangement. The local authority must review the EHC plan at least once a year.