The DfES has issued a revised version of its guidance aimed to support schools and local authorities in recording pupils’ needs in the Pupil Level Annual Schools Census (PLASC).* Data is used to help with planning, to study trends and to monitor the outcomes of initiatives and interventions for pupils with different types of SEN.

The guidance provided in June and September 2003 has now been amended in the light of two years’ experience of collection and all the queries and comments received.

Who to record
Only record type/s of need for pupils where special educational provision is being made at School Action Plus or through a statement of SEN. This means that the pupils receive educational provision, which is additional to, or different from, the educational provision made generally for children of their age, and advice has been sought from external services.

Pupils with statements
When the pupil has a statement, their needs will have been formally assessed and will be described in part two of the statement. The type or types of need recorded should reflect part two. If unclear, contact the local authority which makes and maintains the statement for advice.

Pupils at School Action Plus Some children whose needs are being met at School Action Plus will also have had assessments by educational psychologists, specialist teachers and others. The main areas of difficulty or need are set out in The SEN Code of Practice. They are: cognition and learning; behaviour, emotional and social development; communication and interaction; sensory and/or physical needs. Many pupils have more than one type of difficulty, therefore record information on pupils’ greatest or primary need and, where appropriate, their secondary need. The guidance gives short descriptions under each area of need on types of SEN. If this is not sufficient, the DfES recommends talking to the school’s educational psychologist or specialist support teacher.

There is also a category of ‘other’ (OTH), which only applies to pupils at School Action Plus where there is no clearly identified special educational need.

Pupils at School Action
These should be recorded as having SEN, but do not record their type of need.

Pupils without SEN All pupils without SEN must be recorded as ‘N’ – no special educational need. – Under-attainment may be an indicator of SEN, but poor performance may be due to other factors, such as problems in the child’s home or family circumstances or poor school attendance. – The law says that pupils do not have learning difficulties just because their first language is not English.

– A pupil with a medical diagnosis or disability does not have a special educational need, unless special educational provision is needed to access the curriculum.

Do not record pupils where English is not their first language, or with a medical diagnosis or disability, unless they also have an identified special educational need.

*Data Collection by Type of Special Educational Need
Ref: DfES-1889-2005. Available from DfES Publications Centre or online at: