Boy on swing  

The National Autistic Society welcomes the publication this week of ‘Good intentions, good enough?’, a review commissioned by the Government of the experiences and outcomes of children and young people in residential special schools and colleges. The review was carried out by Dame Christine Lenehan, who is Director of the Council for Disabled Children.

Many of the 6,000 children and young people who attend residential schools and colleges in England are on the autism spectrum. These are often young people with the highest level of needs, with communication difficulties, anxiety and sensory differences. Residential schools can provide a very beneficial environment for some children on the autism spectrum. This is because children do not all live near the type of specialist school that may suit them best. Further, some children have needs that can be met most effectively in a school setting that supports them 24 hours a day.

The report concludes that, while many children and young people could be educated in their local communities if better support was available, some children will need the particular type of education and support that residential schools can offer, and parents should not have to fight so hard to access this. 

The National Autistic Society agrees with this conclusion, and with the recommendation that local areas need to plan school places more strategically, so that the right support is available when it is needed. We also welcome the announcement by the Government that they are accepting the report’s recommendation to set up a national leadership board for children and young people with high needs, reporting to the minister for children and families. 

Catriona Moore, Policy & Parliamentary Officer at the National Autistic Society said:
“The most important thing is that every child on the autism spectrum has the opportunity to receive a good education and to achieve their potential. For some children, residential school will be the best option, and this decision should be a positive choice based on the child’s individual needs, rather than a last resort when other options have failed.”

The National Autistic Society is supporting an inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) into how well the education system in England works for children and young people on the autism spectrum. The APPGA will shortly be publishing a report setting out their findings and recommendations.

Our Education Rights Service provides impartial, confidential information, advice and support on education rights and entitlements for parents and carers of pre-school and school-age children with autism to help them get the educational support their child needs.

Find out more here