Report finds new education system failing to meet needs of autistic children

A new report from the National Autistic Society has found many parents of autistic children are still facing long and often exhausting battles to get the right education and support two years after the Government introduced a new special educational needs and disability (SEND) system in England. 

The SEND system for England promised to make it easier for children to get support and less adversarial for families but the reports suggests parents are still having to fight just as hard and often not getting the right support from local authorities and the NHS.

In a survey by the National Autistic Society, in which around 1,000 parents, carers and children and autistic young people were surveyed:
•    74% of parents say it has not been easy to get the educational support their child needs
•    69% say their child waited more than a year after parents or teachers first raised concerns, and 16% waited more than three years to get support
•    While 50% of parents say they’re satisfied with their child’s SEND provision, just 33% are satisfied with health care and 30% with social care
•    61% of parents say their child is in their preferred type of school, although many parents face an uphill battle to get to this point 
•    17% of parents say they appealed to the SEND Tribunal against their local authority’s decision on their child’s education.

The report includes a series of recommendations to Government and local authorities aimed at reducing delays in getting support and making sure every area has the right mix of schools and other educational provision. This includes calling on the Government to review how councils are implementing the new SEND system and, based on this, to decide whether additional resources are needed to complete the reforms by their 2018 deadline or whether more time is needed. 

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: "Parents should not be facing long, stressful and exhausting battles, just to get the right education for their children. This is putting an unnecessary strain on often already vulnerable families and risking the long-term prospects of the 1 in 100 autistic children in England, who have so much to contribute to our society."