Skip to navigation Skip to main content
Henrietta Curzon


We are excited to announce a new specialist module of the IMPOWER INDEX, which takes an in-depth look at the outcomes, demand and provision of services for children with high needs. It focuses on children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), children in alternative educational provision, and children who have been excluded from school.

Local authorities face a challenge in demonstrating the outcomes that children with high needs achieve and the value that this represents. There is no shared view of what ‘good’ looks like for children with high needs, how their independence can be maximised and how best to support their inclusion within the education system.

However, our work has shown that by analysing children’s needs, outcomes, and the financial resources available, councils can deliver better and more sustainable results.

The high needs module is a benchmarking tool to help councils understand their high needs population. It responds to a series of questions:

1.  Prevalence

  • What is the level of high needs and is it changing year by year?
  • Are the processes working efficiently to identify and support children with high needs?
  • Is there sufficient provision within the geographical area?

 2.  Independence and inclusion

  • What proportion of high needs pupils are in mainstream schools?
  • How are mainstream schools supporting pupils with high needs?
  • How significant is the rate of exclusions?
  • What proportion of excluded children have special educational needs or disabilities?

 3.  Outcomes

  • Are children with high needs achieving good outcomes?
  • Are young people with high needs preparing well for adulthood?
  • Do outcomes continue to be evidenced in adulthood?

 4.  Financial situation

  • What is the level of high needs funding?
  • How is this changing over time?
  • Can councils demonstrate financial grip over high needs?

To answer these questions, we collated 39 different nationally available datasets. It is therefore not surprising that councils are finding it difficult to understand the challenges around demand for children with high needs, and how they compare against their geographical and statistical neighbours. We hope that our module and the Top 10 ranking that we have published will generate debate and ideas so that children with high needs get the focus and attention they deserve.

We’ve already shown the high needs module to several Directors of Children’s Services and their management teams. Please contact us if you’re interested in better understanding your own specific situation.

Other relevant insight

High Needs Roundtable 2: setting out system ambitions

As uncertainty continues over when and how children will fully return to the classroom, system ambitions must be set to support children with SEND.

June 16, 2020

SEND and Covid: challenges and opportunities

3 key recommendations for responding to the challenge and opportunities which the crisis has presented for SEND

June 16, 2020

Guest blogpost: Heather Sandy, Lincolnshire CC

Heather Sandy is the Director of Children’s Services for Lincolnshire County Council. IMPOWER have been supporting the council in relation…

June 2, 2020


Sign up for the latest thinking on delivering sustainable change and better public services

No spam; unsubscribe easily at any time. Learn more in our Privacy Policy.