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A future autism and education strategy (UK)

The Autism Act (2009) was the first disability-specific legislation to be passed by Parliament and focused on supporting autistic adults.
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© University of Bath

In England, the Autism Act (2009) was the first disability-specific legislation to be passed by Parliament and focused on strategies for supporting autistic adults. Also in the UK Parliament, an All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) was formed which is a cross-party group of MPs and Members of the House of Lords who work together to push autism up the agenda in Parliament.

The National Autistic Society performs the role of secretary to the group. In 2017 APPGA produced a report on how the education system in England works for autistic children and young autistic people.

This report did not paint a good picture:

  • 40% of parents say that their child’s school place does not fully meet their needs and only 1 in 10 parents say they are very satisfied with the process of agreeing an education, health and care (EHC) plan for their child.
  • 6 in 10 young people and seven in ten of their parents say that the main thing that would make school better for them is having a teacher who understands autism. However, fewer than 5 in 10 teachers say that they are confident about supporting a child on the autism spectrum.
  • Fewer than half the children and young people on the autism spectrum say they are happy at school, seven in ten say that their peers do not understand them and five in ten say that their teachers do not know how to support them.

To address this APPGA make key recommendations, the first of which is:

The Government should develop a national autism and education strategy by the end of 2019 that includes:

  • training for school staff
  • reasonable adjustments for pupils on the autism spectrum in schools
  • provision of a specialist curriculum for all pupils who need one
  • measures to reduce bullying and promote inclusion
  • and guidance for local authorities on commissioning the full range of educational provision and support.

You can also read a transcript of the debate in Parliament about autism on the Hansard website.

© University of Bath
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Good Practice in Autism Education

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