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Special educational needs, social care and health
  1. Matthew A Jay1,2,
  2. Ruth Gilbert1,2
  1. 1 Legal Epidemiology Group, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2 Child Health Informatics Group, Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Matthew A Jay, Legal Epidemiology Group, University College London, London WC1N 1EH, UK; matthew.jay.15{at}


Better understanding of the proportion of children who ever receive special educational needs (SEN) provision or social care services during school years is highly relevant for healthcare as reductions in one or more of these services could impact on healthcare. Using the National Pupil Database linked to the all-of-England children looked after return and children in need census, we estimated the cumulative incidence of SEN status among (1) children ever in care during school, (2) children in need but not care, and (3) neither. We observed a very high proportion of children who were in care or need during school years had SEN provision at some point (83% and 65%, respectively), and that a high proportion of children in neither of these groups did so, too (37%). Healthcare, SEN provision and social care services focus on a similar population of children. Better integration of these services could lead to synergies and cost-efficiencies and better support for these children and their families.

  • social work
  • school health
  • epidemiology

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  • Contributors MAJ had full access to the data and takes responsibility for the analyses. MAJ drafted the initial manuscript. RG contributed critically to study design and the manuscript.

  • Funding MAJ is a doctoral candidate funded by the Medical Research Council through the UCL-Birkbeck doctoral training partnership (grant award MR/R502248/1). RG is (in part) supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Children and Families Policy Research Unit.

  • Disclaimer The funder had no role in study design or any aspect of conduct including data collection, analysis, interpretation and manuscript writing.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data may be obtained from a third party (the Department for Education) and are available for approved research projects on request.