My hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and I shall refer later in my speech to the Abbotts Lea special school in Liverpool, which is a shining example of the very best practice that exists in our education system.
Delays in diagnosing autism mean that many autistic people do not receive the support that they need, which can really harm their life chances. For too many families, securing the right support for their child at school is a hugely difficult task, and can become an all-consuming battle. The passport to receiving this extra support is an education, health and care—or EHC—plan, which is intended to bring together a child’s different needs in education, health and social care. Autism is the most common type of special need for school pupils who have an EHC plan. However, as budgets have been reduced, local councils often struggle to respond to demand, leading to EHC plans being refused or delayed well beyond the 20-week cut-off date by which a decision on whether to approve an EHC plan should be made.