Parents: get rid of barriers to autistic children’s education

Crop john swinney with representatives from the national autistic society scotland children in scotland and scottish autism

Representatives of the charities met deputy first minister and education secretary John Swinney to hand in the letter.

The letter was delivered by representatives from Children in Scotland, the National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism

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7th December 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Almost 3,000 people have signed a letter calling for the Scottish Government to address the barriers autistic children face to accessing education.

The letter was delivered by representatives from Children in Scotland, the National Autistic Society Scotland and Scottish Autism.

This comes after a survey of 1,417 parents of autistic children who have missed school revealed that 34% said their child had been unlawfully excluded in the last two years – with 22% saying this happened multiple times a week.

Meanwhile, 13% said their child had been formally excluded from school in the last two years, 28% said their child had been placed on a part-time timetable in the last two years, 85% said their child did not receive support to catch up on work they had missed and 72% felt that school staff having a better understanding of how their child’s autism affects them, including their communication needs, could have helped.

The findings of this survey were published by the three charities in the Not Included, Not Engaged, Not Involved report, and debated in Scottish Parliament recently

Children in Scotland’s head of policy Amy Woodhouse said: “Our joint report revealed that hundreds of autistic children throughout Scotland are affected by unlawful exclusion from school – despite Scottish Government guidance stating that this should never happen. The impact of this exclusion on children and families, as evidenced by the report, can be devastating.

“We do not want to see these lived experiences become the topic of party political point-scoring. We expect action on this issue that shows empathy for autistic children, demonstrates accountability, and sends a signal that the right of all children to an education will be honoured.”

Jo Hamilton, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society Scotland, said: “We have formed a powerful partnership, bringing together expertise and insight to understand the barriers autistic children face to accessing education. We will continue to campaign together until autistic children in Scotland feel included, engaged and involved in their education.”

Charlene Tait, deputy chief executive at Scottish Autism added: “As a charity committed to enriching the lives of autistic people, excluding autistic children from school is detrimental to both their education and to their overall well-being. 

“Almost 3,000 people across Scotland have asked the Deputy First Minister to support the nine calls for action set out in our report.”

Representatives of the charities met deputy first minister and education secretary John Swinney to discuss the letter.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The deputy first minister recently met the National Autistic Society, Scottish Autism and Children in Scotland and reiterated our commitment to ensuring that all children and young people get the support that they need to reach their full learning potential. 

“We recognise that children and young people with additional support needs are at a higher risk of exclusion, and we are committed to taking steps to reduce this. However, we are clear that the use of informal exclusions is unacceptable and should never be used.

“Our refreshed exclusion guidance, Included Engaged and Involved Part 2, has a renewed focus on prevention, early intervention and response to individual need in line with the principles of Getting it Right For Every Child. The guidance sets out clearly that there are additional factors that need to be considered when a child or young person has an additional support need.”