To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to deal with the issue identified by the National Autistic Society in their School Report 2016 on the Special Educational Needs System of children and families unable to access the range of non-educational support needed at local level to help autistic young people reach their full potential.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to deal with the issue identified by the National Autistic Society in their School Report 2016 on the Special Educational Needs System of children and families unable to access the right help in school because of a lack of understanding and autism expertise across the school system, which can result in exclusions.
Representatives from the National Autistic Society (NAS) met Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, on 2 November to discuss the findings and recommendations of their School Report 2016. Government agrees with NAS about the importance of ensuring that the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system works well for children and young people with autism.
The SEND reforms in the Children and Families Act 2014 have brought benefits for children and young people with autism and their families, including the move to more person-centred, multi-agency and participative Education, Health and Care needs assessments and plans, with the lead time for an assessment reduced from 24 to 20 weeks. Separately, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) standard specifies that an assessment for a possible autism diagnosis should begin within three months of referral, and the Government plans to improve the tracking of referral-to-assessment times for an autism diagnosis.
Under the SEND Code of Practice, schools are expected to identify and support needs such as communication and social skills, with particular mention of the difficulties faced by pupils with autism. Schools therefore have a responsibility to put support in place where pupils display this type of need.
Government has provided funding of more than £2m to the Autism Education Trust (AET) since 2011 to deliver autism awareness training to education staff in early years settings, schools and post-16 settings in order to boost workforce understanding of how best to support pupils with autism and minimise the potential for exclusion. A new framework for Initial Teacher Training programmes, published in July 2016, also includes content on special educational needs and autism for training providers to use.