To ask the Secretary of State for Education
(1) how many informal exclusions of students with autism there were in (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in England in each of the last four years;
(2) what guidance his Department offers to schools about the exclusion of students with autism.
The Department for Education does not collect data on the use of informal exclusions. The Department's statutory exclusion guidance makes clear that all exclusions from school must be lawful, reasonable and fair. There is no excuse for a school not to adhere to the correct process, and Ofsted takes seriously any evidence that a school has acted unlawfully in excluding a pupil.
The exclusion guidance emphasises to schools the importance of early intervention to address underlying causes of disruptive behaviour, including, where appropriate, an assessment of whether suitable provision is in place to support any special educational needs (SEN) a pupil may have. It also states that head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding permanently any pupil with a statement of SEN.
In addition, the Department is currently providing, over a two-year period, £440,000 in funding to the National Autistic Society. Part of this funding is being used to employ an exclusions adviser who can give advice to parents and professionals to help prevent unlawful exclusion and reduce the need for formal exclusion from school.
The Department will continue to work with National Autistic Society, Ambitious about Autism and other groups to help improve provision for children and young people with autism.