Boys at double the risk of being diagnosed with special needs than girls

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New government figures have revealed that boys are twice more likely to be diagnosed with special educational needs (SEN) than girls.

Across the UK there are almost 1.5 million children attending state schools who have been diagnosed with having some form of learning disability or difficulty which makes it harder for them to learn than other children their age. This includes emotional and social issues, communication, language, speech and behavioural problems.

Of these, 911900 boys compared to 487885 girls have been diagnosed with SEN.
The data from the Department for Education showed that pupils from poorer backgrounds, certain ethnic minorities and children in care are more likely to fall into this category.

The figures indicate that as of January, around 17.9% or just over one in six pupils were considered to have SEN. This makes it a total of 1.49 million children.

The figure has declined since 2010, when it was at 21.1%.

The latest figures show that there is a continuing divide between the sexes, with 911900 boys falling into this group, either with or without a statement of needs, compared to 487885 girls. It is stated that boys are more prone to autism diagnoses, but scientists are not clear on the reasons for this.

According to a recent study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, girls need more extreme genetic mutations than boys to develop this condition. This results in them being at lower risk of being pushed over the autism diagnostic threshold.

According to the new Government figures, there is an indication that SEN pupils are more than twice as likely to qualify for free school meals, which is a measurement of poverty, than children without SEN. It was also found that about 67.8% of children in care have SEN. The figures indicate that black pupils are the ones most likely to be diagnosed with some type of learning difficulty or disability, while Chinese children are the least likely.

The most common types of need for pupils in this category are language and speech difficulties, emotional issues and behavioural problems.

The study proceeds with the achievement of SEN pupils and indicates that at the end of primary school, 34% of those with learning difficulties achieved the level expected of the age group they are classified in with regard to writing, reading and maths, compared to 88% of their classmates.

At GCSE level during 2012/2013, around 23.4% of SEN teenagers achieved at least five C grades, inclusive of maths and English, compared to 70.4% of those falling outside of the SEN spectrum.

This data has been made available just days after the implementation of a new support system for children with special needs.

Under this new system, new education, care and health plans, which cover the ages from birth to 25, will replace learning disability assessments and SEN statements to create a simpler and more cohesive system in the UK.

Image Credit: woodleywonderworks

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