Last year we launched our Held Back campaign to make sure no child is held back in their education because they’re autistic. Over 20,000 of you signed our open letter calling on the Government to develop a national autism and education strategy. 

The Government has said they will respond to this call later in the year but in the meantime we have an important opportunity to help put on more pressure on them to make the changes you told us you want to see. 

What is happening now?

In April, Parliament’s Education Committee launched an inquiry into support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which includes autism. This group of MPs scrutinises government policy on education and makes recommendations to the Government.

This is an important moment in our campaign to make sure that no autistic child is held back. If you or your child has been through the new SEND system, we need your help.

You can help by giving evidence to the Committee

By telling this group of MPs about your experiences, you can give the Committee the evidence it needs to say what should change.

Inquiries like this ask people to tell their stories through sending in written ‘evidence’. To do this, they recommend a number of themes (called ‘terms of reference’). You don’t have to send in evidence for every one of the terms of reference, just the ones that you want to.

Send your evidence to the Committee

Under each of the terms of reference, we have suggested some questions that might help you write your evidence. But you can include other information about your own experiences if you want to.

1. Assessment of and support for children and young people with SEND

  • This means assessments like for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
  • Did you have to wait a long time for an EHCP assessment?
  • Did you have to ask more than once for an assessment? Or did your council refuse to carry out an assessment?
  • Were you satisfied with the EHCP? Did it identify all the right support?
  • Were you as involved in the EHCP process as you wanted to be?
  • Did you have to appeal or complain about what was in the EHCP? 
  • Are the services you need available in your area?
  • Is the school near home, or far away?
  • Did you use your Local Offer? Was it useful?

2. The transition from statements of special educational needs and Learning Disability Assessments to Education, Health and Care Plans

  • This is relevant to children who had a statement under the old system, who have moved over to EHCPs.
  • Did you have a full assessment as part of changing from a statement to EHCPs?
  • Did your EHCP improve the amount of support you get?
  • Do you think EHCPs are better than statements

3. The level and distribution of funding for SEND provision

  • This section is about making sure that there is enough money to provide the support that children with SEND need.
  • Have you been told that there isn’t enough money available to have the services you need in your area?
  • Has any of the support that you receive been cut or reduced recently? Why was this?
  • The roles of and co-operation between education, health and social care sectors
  • The new SEND system is supposed to bring together professionals across education, health and social care.
  • Were the right professionals involved in developing your EHCP?
  • What others should have been involved?
  • Who was the lead professional (e.g. the SENCO)?

4. Provision for 19-25-year olds including support for independent living; transition to adult services; and access to education, apprenticeships and work

  • The new SEND system can support a young person until they are 25 years old. It should also mean that there is a transition process for moving to adult services.
  • What was transition like for you?
  • Were the right options available for you (e.g. in education or housing)?
  • Has this helped prepare for adult services?
  • When did planning for transition to adult services start? Did this give enough time?
  • Do you feel like your wishes were fully considered?

Send your evidence to the Committee

What is the National Autistic Society doing?

We have used all the evidence that supporters like you shared about the education system and we will be submitting a response outlining what we think has worked and where more progress is needed. We believe that to make the SEND system work for autistic children in England, the Government needs to create a national autism and education strategy. Find out more here.

What is the Education Select Committee?

The Education Committee is not part of the Government, it is a body of MPs that scrutinises government policy and questions witnesses. Importantly, the Government has to respond to its reports and recommendations. This is why it’s important autism is a part of this inquiry. 

The Committee welcomes people’s personal experiences but kindly ask that people stick to the terms of reference (explained above).