Today we have published a report, in partnership with Children in Scotland and Scottish Autism, on the experiences of autistic children in Scotland who have missed school. You can read the full Not Included, Not Engaged, Not Involved report and the executive summary.

More than a third (34%) of parents who responded to the survey we conducted as part of the report said that their children had been unlawfully excluded in the last two years – with almost a quarter (22%) saying this happened multiple times a week.

An ‘unlawful’ exclusion is when a school sends a child home without using the formal exclusion process, meaning monitoring and support systems are bypassed. Scottish Government guidance is clear on its position that unlawful exclusions should not happen – yet our research shows that they are happening to autistic children across Scotland.

Now we want our supporters to sign our open letter to the Deputy First Minster and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney, asking him to work with the relevant agencies to implement these calls for action. You can add your signature.

Pamela’s son, Kyle, is autistic. She said: “Kyle is only six but he’s already at his second school. The first school treated him like he had an infectious disease. He was left in a room by himself all day, away from the lesson and his friends. One day he came home and told me he was meant to be alone. It was heartbreaking.

“When I complained, the school suggested that he should only do half days, which is a form of unlawful exclusion. This put a lot of pressure on me as a working parent, and it was a relief when I found him a place in a school where staff actually understand autism and want to ensure autistic children receive an education.”

Our survey of 1,417 parents and carers of autistic children also revealed that:

  • 13% of respondents said their autistic child had been formally excluded from school in the last two years.
  • 28% of respondents said their autistic child had been placed on a part-time timetable in the last two years.
  • 85% of respondents said their autistic child did not receive support to catch up on work they had missed.
  • 72% of respondents felt that school staff having a better understanding of how their child’s autism affects them, including their communication needs, could have helped their child.

We are calling for Scottish Government to work with local education authorities and education professionals to address the barriers to autistic children accessing a fulfilling education – and stop the use of unlawful exclusions.

Carla Manini Rowden, manager of our Education Rights Service, said: “Sending a child home without formally excluding them is against the law, yet it keeps happening to the families we support and it is having a devastating impact on the education and wellbeing of children. We believe that Scottish Government must take action now and work with local authorities and education professionals to end the use of unlawful exclusions.”

Sign our petition