Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to present data drawn from the Department for Education (DfE) concerning trends in the number of children identified as having a learning disability within state schools in England. Design/methodology/approach - Data based on the school census conducted by the DfE was examined annually for 2009/2010 to 2014/2015, to determine the number of children identified as having moderate learning difficulty (MLD), severe learning difficulty (SLD) or profound multiple learning difficulty (PMLD) within state schools in England, at two levels: having a Statement of Educational Needs/Education Health Care Plan, or at School Action Plus. Findings - The number of children identified as MLD reduced substantially over time, for both statemented children and children identified at the School Action Plus level. In contrast, the smaller number of statemented children with SLD or PMLD increased over time, in line with increasing school rolls and epidemiological trends. Research limitations/implications - Further work is needed to understand the sharp reduction in the number of children being identified as having MLD within schools, and the educational support being offered to this group of children. Better information is also needed on children with learning disabilities not being educated in the state school sector. Originality/value - This paper highlights important trends in the identification of children with learning disabilities in state schools in England, with consequences for how large groups of children are being supported.
- Intellectual disability
- Learning disabilities