What is the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism?

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) is a formal cross-party backbench group of MPs and Peers who share an interest in autism. It was set up in February 2000. Its role is to campaign in Parliament for greater awareness of autism and to lobby the Government for improved services for people on the spectrum and their carers. Its secretariat is provided by The National Autistic Society. The APPGA is advised by an advisory group made up of autistic adults, parents, professionals and representatives from autism charities.

The APPGA does not have any powers to introduce legislation, nor is it part of Government. But it provides a useful platform for important and topical issues around autism to be discussed and raised in Parliament.

What is the inquiry on autism and education?

The APPGA is running an inquiry into how effectively the education system in England is working for children and young people on the autism spectrum, and what needs to change. MPs and members of the House of Lords are speaking to and hearing from autistic young people, parents, teachers, decision-makers and a range of other professionals working in the system, to determine where the gaps are and what needs to be done differently.

In addition to evidence sessions in Parliament, the APPGA has been carrying out detailed online surveys of parents, young people and teachers, to find out about people’s direct experiences of the SEND system. There has been an excellent response to these surveys, with thousands of people sharing their views and experiences.

What happens next?

All the information gathered through parliamentary evidence sessions, written submissions and surveys will be used in a report and series of recommendations to the Government to be published in the autumn.

Why did the group decide to do an inquiry on education?

The APPGA regularly consults with autistic people, family members and others with an interest in autism about what they think should be the priority areas for the Group’s work. In 2016, education featured highly in a survey on priorities. In addition, MPs within the Group were contacted by a number of parents in their own constituencies raising concerns about school places and support for children on the autism spectrum, and they wanted to look into this issue more closely.

How have autistic people been involved in the inquiry?

Young people on the autism spectrum have been invited to complete a survey about their school experiences and the support they received. The National Autistic Society’s Young Ambassadors Group held a discussion about support in schools and submitted evidence to the APPGA. Several young autistic people from this group attended an evidence session in Parliament and shared their views directly with parliamentarians.

How have parents of children on the autism spectrum been involved?

Parents of children on the autism spectrum have been invited to complete a survey about their family’s experiences of the SEND system and their satisfaction with their child’s school experience and the support they have received. More than 2,500 parents have completed this survey.

Parents have attended every evidence session in Parliament and shared their experiences in more detail with members of the APPGA.

The APPGA has also heard from groups and organisations that represent parents and young people.

I have views about what the report needs to recommend. How can I share these views?

The survey are now closed. However, you can email any views to policy@nas.org.uk. All information will be shared with the APPGA and will feed into the final report.