Children with physical, sensory or learning disabilities

You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

Children with long-term disability are a diverse group. Some will have highly complex needs requiring multi-agency support across health, social services and education – the most extreme example perhaps being those who are technology-dependent. Other children will require substantially less support, although nevertheless have a long-term disability.

What do we know?

According to Department for Education (DfE) research, children and young people with a disability currently face multiple barriers which make it more difficult for them to achieve their potential, to achieve the outcomes their peers expect and to succeed in education.

In addition to barriers to education, 29% of disabled children nationally live in poverty. Surveys show that young people aged 16-24 are less satisfied with their lives than their peers and there is a tendency for support to fall away at key transition points as young people move from child to adult services (this is covered in the JSNA chapter ‘Transition to adulthood for young people with additional needs’). Families with disabled children report particularly high levels of unmet needs, isolation and stress.

The most common functional difficulties children experience are difficulties with: memory, concentration, learning, communication, mobility, and physical coordination. Speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) represent one of the most prevalent disabilities in early childhood. Around 6% of children in the UK have specific and primary communication impairments. In addition to these children with long-term and persistent SLCN, it has been identified that in some areas there are 40%–50% of children who enter education with ‘delayed language’. With the right support, many of these children can catch up. (Source: I CAN – Speech, Language and Communication Needs and primary school children – Review 2008).

The number of children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance diagnosed with Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or learning disabilities has increased from 50,000 in 1995 to 210,000 in 2012 (School Age children in UK. Source: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence).

An integrated and learning based approach to help is recognised as having the greatest impact, with parents and teaching staff as key change agents for the young person, working with therapist guidance.

Facts, figures, trends

The total number of pupils with special educational needs in Slough in 2015 was 4,586 which represents 15.7% of pupils. This is slightly less than the figure the previous year but similar to the national average. Of these, 812 have a statement of special educational needs.

In the same year the number of pupils in Slough known to have a learning disability was 1,525. The majority (88%) of those with a learning disability will have a moderate disability. Only 2.5% of those with a learning disability have profound and multiple difficulties. This is similar to the national average in England and represents around 1 in 1,000 school children or just under 30 children in total in Slough (based on 2014 data). As the published figures for the preceding years were calculated using a different method, trends are unfortunately difficult to interpret.

In 2015 there were 1,145 school pupils with speech, language, or communication needs in Slough, this is almost double the figure recorded two years previously. As a proportion this represents 3.9% of all pupils in the borough, which is significantly higher than the national average and South East average of 2.3%.

(Source: Public Health England Fingertips)

National and local strategies (current best practices)


The Equality Act 2010

This Act replaced previous anti-discrimination laws (including the disability discrimination act 1995 amongst others) with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations.

The Children and Families Act 2014

This Act stated that children and families should have one health, education and social care plan, which is child and family centred, holistic, and reflects the hopes and aspirations of the child. If the council agrees that a young person needs more time to get ready for adulthood, this plan can be extended until age 25.

The government document Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) code of practice: 0 to 25 years sets out the duties of local authorities, health bodies, schools and colleges to provide for those with special educational needs under part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

Children with special educational and complex needs: Guidance for Health and Wellbeing Boards is a paper produced by the Department of Health that outlines best practice for Health and Wellbeing Boards to follow. Chief Medical Officer report; Our Children Deserve Better – 2012 also highlights the need for frameworks to ensure that children and young people with disabilities do not fall between the gaps.


Every Local Authority in England is required to publish information about the services in their area for children and young people from birth to 25 with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND); it also has to include services outside of the area which children from their area may use. This is known as the “Local Offer” and has been required since September 2014.

The Local Offer has two main purposes:

  • to provide clear, comprehensive and accessible information about the support and opportunities that are available
  • to make provision more responsive to local needs.The Local Offer will put all the information about education, health and care services, voluntary agencies, leisure activities and support groups in one place.

What is this telling us?

There is an increase in demand in Slough for children’s therapy services and for services to support physical and learning disability needs in children and young people.

What are the key inequalities?

As stated above, children and young people with a disability currently face multiple barriers which make it more difficult for them to achieve their potential, to achieve the outcomes their peers expect and to succeed in education. In addition 29% of disabled children nationally live in poverty.

Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations

  • To follow DH recommendations relating to children with special educational and complex needs
  • To continue to work according to the Children and Families Act 2014 and to signpost children and families to Slough's local offer

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