EBD to be replaced by SMEH

A broad range of reforms for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) came into effect in September 2014. The reforms are intended to help deliver better outcomes for children and young people and more effective ways of working by joining up help across education, health and care, from birth to age 25.


Colleges, training organisations, local authorities and employers (FE providers) return data for learners with SEND in the Individualised Learner Record (ILR) differently to schools, who return pupil data in the school census. The government ran a public consultation from 5 August to 10 September 2014 to seek views on making changes to the School Census and ILR information for the 2015 to 2016 academic year. This is part of a long term aim to move to a consistent data collection to improve tracking of students, cohorts and specific needs groups, improve data quality, support planning and move towards a more consistent data collection across all age ranges.


The consultation received 128 responses from Schools, Colleges, Local Authorities, Parents, Young People, Employers (FE providers), Training Organisers, those with an interest in SEND policy implementation/data development and other interested groups.


A small set of changes are being implemented that, based on feedback received, better reflect the new SEND landscape and are intended to simplify the process for providers and young people and improve data quality to support planning, analysis and policy development.



SEND changes to the ILR for 2015/16 academic year

The descriptor ‘Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties’ will be replaced with ‘Social and emotional difficulties’. The SEN Code of Practice states that ‘behaviour’ itself does not necessarily mean that a child or young person has a special educational need and the term therefore needs to be changed. Those previously referred to as EBD, SEBD or BESD will now fall under the umbrella term SMEH, or Social, Mental and Emotional Health.

The two separate lists of ‘Disability’ and ‘Learning Difficulty’ will be brought together into one list, simplifying the process for recording special educational need.

‘Not known / not provided’ will be replaced with two new fields, ‘not provided’; and ‘prefer not to say’. These changes made together with the creation of a single list will mean more complete SEND information is collected; reduce system generated ‘not knowns’ which are disproportionately high, and improve data quality and accuracy.

Learners with multiple learning difficulties and/or disabilities can select more than one category from the single list and indicate their primary need. This will bring the ILR and School Census into line and lead to greater accuracy, understanding needs of learners and granularity of data.

The new descriptors will apply to all learners with SEND, not just those with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) Plan. They will also apply to learners who self-declare a learning difficulty and/or disability to ensure consistency in how needs are recorded.

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