Special Educational Needs: Autism

Department for Education written question – answered on 11th March 2021.

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Photo of Tracy Brabin Tracy Brabin Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the availability of mainstream school places for children with autism in (a) Batley and Spen constituency, (b) Kirklees, (c) West Yorkshire and (d) England.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The majority of children with autism are educated in mainstream settings. Of those children identified with a primary need of autistic spectrum disorder as either requiring special educational needs support (67,867 children) or who have an education, health and care plan (82,847 children), 108,481 are currently educated in mainstream settings in England. This trend is replicated in the Kirklees local authority area, where 328 of 474 children with a primary need of autism are in mainstream settings, and in the Batley and Spen constituency, where the numbers are 75 out of 79 children. [1]

The statutory duty to provide sufficient school places, including for those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), sits with local authorities. We provide funding for all of the places that are needed, based on local authorities’ own data. This is why we have announced nearly £500 million to provide places needed for 2023. This funding is on top of over £8.1 billion to provide places needed from 2015 to 2022 and our investment in the free schools programme.

Published data on school capacity estimates that, as at May 2019, Kirklees still needed to provide a further 300 places by September 2021. Funding is allocated at local authority level and cannot be broken down further. Kirklees has been allocated £53.2 million to provide new school places since 2010.

Under the SEND Code of Practice 2015, all mainstream schools are under a duty to use their best endeavours to support children with special educational needs (whether or not the child has an education, health and care plan). The Children and Families Act 2014 requires local authorities to keep the provision for children and young people with SEND under review (including its sufficiency), working with parents, young people, and providers.

[1] https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/special-educational-needs-in-england

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