Today, our joint report with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) was launched in the Houses of Parliament. The new Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP came and spoke at the event.

In order to support the report our charity, in association with Ambitious about Autism, launched a campaign called Held Back. We are asking the Government to give a commitment that no child will be held back from meeting their potential because they’re autistic.

An open letter supporting the introduction of a national autism and education strategy was signed by over 20,000 you, as well as more than 80 Members of Parliament and the House of Lords. Thank you so much to all of you who have signed the letter.  The letter and signatures were presented to the Secretary of State at the event. He promised that his department would be responding in full to the recommendations made in the report. He also highlighted that the Government were undertaking an exclusions inquiry.  

The co-chairs of the inquiry, Maria Caulfield MP and Huw Merriman MP also spoke at the event saying why they felt the introduction of a national autism and education strategy was necessary. Maria highlighted how her local MP surgeries were full of the parents of autistic children telling stories of how hard they had to fight to get the report in place.  Huw highlighted that over 3,000 people had responded to the survey that fed into the report. He noted that fewer than  half of the young people who responded said they were happy at school.

Two young people on the autism spectrum, Lauren Malina-Goldsmith and Sam Tanner also spoke about their experiences in full time education. Sam said that he felt like a fish in a tank of piranhas and Lauren spoke about how she felt her teachers didn’t have a lot of expertise in dealing with autistic students.  

Alongside Members of Parliament and the House of Lords the reception was attended by more than 100 young autistic people, education professionals and parents who all had stories to share about their own experiences of education and autism.

The photo shows left to right: Cheryl Gillan, Huw Merriman, Maria Caulfield, Mark Lever, Sam Tanner, Lauren Malina-Goldsmith, Damian Hinds.