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Make sure no child is held back because they're autistic


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Sign our open letter 

Autistic children and young people in England are being let down and held back from achieving their potential by the education system.

More than 4 in 10 families are being turned away when asking for the extra help they need.

Schools and local councils don't understand how to help autistic children learn, and parents have to fight for the support their child is entitled to.

The Government must develop a national autism and education strategy so no children are held back from meeting their potential because they're autistic.

Join The National Autistic Society and Ambitious About Autism, and sign our open letter to the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, using the form opposite.

To read the letter, scroll down.

Sign the open letter today 

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Our open letter to the Secretary of State for Education

Dear Secretary of State,

The education system in England is letting down children and young people on the autism spectrum. Too many children are not getting the support they need to succeed at school, and are held back from achieving their potential because they’re autistic.

Autism is one of the most common types of special educational need, affecting children in every school in the country. More than 1 in 100 children are on the autism spectrum, with 70 per cent educated in mainstream schools. While autism can present some serious difficulties, we know that a child who is understood and supported appropriately can make excellent progress. 

The Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice make clear that children with special educational needs such as autism should have their needs identified early and support put in place quickly. 

But many parents have to fight to get the support their child is entitled to. 50 per cent of children on the autism spectrum have to wait more than a year for the help they need at school. 42 per cent of children are refused an assessment by their local authority of their education, health and care needs the first time this is requested. 40 per cent of parents say their child’s school place does not fully meet their needs.

The consequence of this is that children too often have to fail at school before support is provided. This has a negative impact on their educational outcomes, their self-esteem and their long-term prospects.

In their recent inquiry into how well the education system works for children on the autism spectrum, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism concluded that a national autism and education strategy is needed. This would make sure that local authorities plan and commission the services and support that are needed in every area. It would also help schools to develop a better understanding of the needs of autistic pupils and make the necessary adjustments to meet those needs.

Every child has only one childhood. There is one opportunity to get it right for them. We urge you to put in place a national autism and education strategy without delay so that every child has the opportunity to thrive, and no child is held back.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Lever, Chief Executive, The National Autistic Society
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive, Ambitious About Autism

National Autistic Society campaigners [we will add your name here]