Today, our charity launched a new education campaign called Held Back, in partnership with Ambitious about Autism. We want the Government to make sure no children are held back from meeting their potential because they’re autistic.

We've launched the campaign alongside today's publication of a new report on autism and education by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, in partnership with our charity. This follows an inquiry we have been supporting that was carried out by a cross-party group of MPs and members of the House of Lords.

The report and our campaign call on Government to develop a national autism and education strategy. The Government has responded and said they will consider the report’s recommendations carefully. We need to put pressure on them to make sure the recommendations are taken forward.

Sign our open letter to Government

The APPGA inquiry

More than 3,000 parents, carers, young people and teachers shared their experiences with us through the inquiry. We found that too many children are not getting the support they need to succeed at school and are held back from achieving their potential.

  • More than 50% of children and young people on the autism spectrum who responded to our survey say that they are not happy at school.
  • Fewer than 50% of teachers who responded say they are confident about supporting a child on the autism spectrum.
  • 50% of parents told us they waited more than a year for the right support to be put in place at school for their child.
  • 70% of parents who responded to our survey said the main thing that would make school better for their child is having a teacher who understands autism.
  • 42% of children are refused an education, health and care assessment by their local council the first time this is requested.

These findings come three years after the Government launched a new special educational needs and disability (SEND) system in England, promising to make it easier for children and families to get support.

However, it appears that children too often have to fail at school before support is put in place. The report concludes that the reforms to the SEND system have not been implemented properly, and that all schools and local councils need to start following the SEND Code of Practice without delay. It also calls for a national strategy for autism and education, to make sure that every area has the services and support that children and young people on the autism spectrum need.

Download the report

The parliamentary inquiry was co-chaired by Huw Merriman MP and Maria Caulfield MP. They said, “As with all young people, children on the autism spectrum only have one childhood.

After hearing desperate pleas from families in our constituencies who are struggling to secure school provision and support for their autistic children, it felt critical to act.

“During the course of this inquiry, we heard that many children on the autism spectrum are being failed in various ways by the education system. We urge the Government to look carefully at our report and develop a national autism and education strategy so that every autistic child is supported to make the most of their talents and reach their potential.”

Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society, said, “Autistic children and young people in England are being let down and held back by the education system, and this is putting an unnecessary strain on families who may already be struggling.

The Government must make sure that councils are following the law, and must hold failing local areas to account.

Additionally, the Government must develop a national autism and education strategy to make sure that the right type of school and support is available near where you live as standard, not because of luck, and make sure that the education system as a whole understands autism.

“By signing our open letter to Justine Greening MP, you will be supporting the 120,000 school-aged children on the autism spectrum in England who deserve the right to an education, just like everyone else.”

Ambitious About Autism and the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) at University College London also helped to run the inquiry. We would like to thank Axcis for their support for the inquiry.

An image of the Axcis Education logo