Inclusion Series

We have created an inclusion index to better understand the landscape of inclusion of SEND pupils in education across England

Welcome to our inclusion series (as featured in TES). As an organisation that considers inclusion a critical issue, we wanted to understand whether it was possible to measure the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) using public data. We’ve explored creating an index from 12 measures across areas such as the proportion of pupils with SEND supported in mainstream schools, attainment, exclusions and overall numbers of pupils with education, health and care plans (EHCPs).

We have combined public data sources to create overall inclusion scores by local authority area. The inclusion score looks at:

  1. Exclusions – rates of exclusion of SEND pupils
  2. Assessment – proportion of SEND pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  3. Placement – school placement of pupils with an EHCP
  4. Attainment – attainment and progress scores of pupils with an EHCP, as well as the proportion not in education, employment or training (NEET)

For an area to have a high score, it would have a high percentage of pupils with SEND supported in mainstream education. Pupils with SEND would have fewer exclusions, plus good attainment and progress.

Start here to read the introduction to our six part inclusion index series

Our analysis of inclusion across England revealed that:

  • London local authority areas tend to have high scores across the index, in particular for attainment and exclusions
  • Yorkshire and the Humber have a high average score for assessment
  • Local authority areas in the East of England are the highest scoring for placement of EHCP pupils.

Mime Inclusion Series

An inclusive education is one where every pupil has equal access to opportunities to learn and fulfil their potential. We hope that this exploration of the available data will help decision makers assess whether there is high quality, local provision for SEND pupils, and to learn from other areas
Steve Preston, DirectorMime

1. Exclusions

  • London has lower exclusion rates of EHCP and SEN support pupils than the rest of the country
  • Rates of exclusion of EHCP and SEN support pupils vary substantially across England, even within regions
  • Areas with relatively large SEND cohorts with social, emotional and mental health needs, and those with higher levels of deprivation tend to have higher exclusion rates.

Read our exploration of exclusions of SEND pupils

The very high rates exclusion of SEND pupils in some areas of England is cause for concern for those interested in making schools more inclusive. A better understanding of what is driving these exclusions will help to improve inclusion in education for SEND pupils in England.

Relationship between SEMH and exclusions

2. Assessment

  • There is large variation between LA areas in the proportion of SEND pupils who are issued EHCPs
  • Larger EHCP cohorts typically have higher average attainment and lower exclusion rates
  • More deprived areas tend to have smaller EHCP cohorts.

Read our discussion of EHCP assessment rates

Understanding the relative size and nature of an EHCP cohort is crucial to properly interpreting data about EHCP cohort outcomes.

Variation in percentage of SEND pupils with an EHCP

3. Placement

  • There is evidence of inconsistent decision making on school placement of EHCP pupils across different regions and LA areas
  • Our inclusion index scores LA areas with a greater proportion of EHCP pupils in special schools as less inclusive
  • School placement is influenced by both the availability of provision and deprivation.

Read our analysis of school placement

Whether a pupil is kept in mainstream education or placed into specialist provision is clearly a critical decision for children and their parents. A more inclusive system would ensure better provision in mainstream education with an appropriately trained workforce, reserving specialist education for those with the most complex needs.

Relationship between special school numbers and EHCP pupil school placement

4. Attainment

  • EHCP pupil attainment is particularly high in London LA areas
  • Relatively large EHCP cohorts tend to achieve better average attainment
  • EHCP cohorts in more deprived areas tend to have worse Attainment 8 and Progress 8 scores. However, counter-intuitively, higher deprivation is correlated with better progress at KS2.

Read our investigation of attainment and progress of pupils with an EHCP

While academic attainment is clearly important for all pupils, any analysis of academic outcomes of SEND pupils should take into account the cohort size and characteristics. It is also important for schools to monitor the non-academic progress of pupils with an EHCP, including social and emotional development.

Relationship between EHCP cohort size and attainment scores


  • There is substantial variation across England
  • Deprivation is key. Higher levels of deprivation affecting children are linked to worse attainment and progress
  • Our inclusion index can’t yet account for wellbeing and social outcomes, or the effect of ‘off-rolling’ on public data

Read our full conclusions

Our inclusion index measures the level of inclusion of SEND pupils in education over England’s LA areas. We believe that this allows decision makers interested in improving inclusion to make better interventions to serve SEND pupils.