New report shows parents still face long battles to get right support for children

Our new education report finds that far too many parents and carers of autistic children in England face long and exhausting battles to get the education and support their children need.

School Report 2016 is based on surveys of around 1,000 parents, carers and children and young people on the autism spectrum. Two years on from the introduction of a new Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) system in England, we wanted to find out whether the new system is meeting their needs.

When the new system was introduced, the Government promised that it would be easier for children with special educational needs such as autism to get support, that services would work together better, and that there would be less conflict.

But our survey found that:

  • 74% of parents have not found it easy to get the educational support their child needs
  • 69% of parents said that their child had waited more than a year for support after concerns were first raised – and 16 per cent had waited more than three years
  • While 50% of parents say they’re satisfied with their child’s SEND provision, just 33% are satis​fied with health care and 30% with social care
  • 17% of parents say they appealed to the SEND Tribunal against their local authority’s decisions on their child’s education

Our School Report 2016 says the Government and local councils need to reduce delays in getting support and make sure that every area has the right mix of schools and services for autistic children. We believe the Government should review how well councils are putting the SEND reforms into practice, and look at whether extra resources or more time are needed to get it right in each local area.

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.

“The Government tried to fix the education system for children with special educational needs by introducing welcome reforms two years ago, and then announcing more funding to help in February this year. But many of the same problems remain. Too many parents are having to take legal action to get basic support for their children and education, health and care services still aren’t working together as the Government says they should.

“With the right education and support, children on the autism spectrum can achieve great things and their families can live full and happy lives. Without it, families are left to struggle alone and children can miss out on years of education, putting them and our society at a huge disadvantage.

“The Government must take responsibility for its reforms and review how local councils are using the extra funding and what difference the reforms are making.  The Government must then act, whether that’s increasing resources to complete the reforms by the 2018 deadline or delaying implementation until local authorities can fulfil their legal responsibilities properly. The most important thing is to make sure that the speed of the reforms don’t compromise the support children need.”

Every Child

Together with Ambitious about Autism we are determined to make sure every child with autism gets the right educational support. Read more.

Download the report