Ambitious about Autism has launched a new campaign which calls on the government to protect funding for children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and ensure they have access to a good education.
The campaign, Written Off?, aims to raise awareness of the issues proposed in the government’s SEND review, which was published in March 2022.
The green papers puts forward various proposals which campaigners say will make it harder for children with SEND to access the assessments, support and school placements they need (for example, by limiting parents’ ability to choose a school for their child).
Funding announced by government will only restore education funding to 2010 levels
The charity spoke to nearly 2,000 families and autistic people and found that nearly two thirds (65%) of parents were not happy with their autistic child’s mainstream education, while over a third (36%) of autistic young people had been out of education against their wishes.
Ambitious about Autism is now calling for a focus on policy solutions that make all schools more autism-inclusive. This includes investing fully in an autism-trained workforce and ensuring Ofsted gives higher priority to SEND support in its inspections.
They have published new research which outlines its solutions to fixing problems in the SEND system that are holding back autistic children and young people. This includes a public commitment from the government to provide additional funding for children with SEND.
The charity says the £2bn announced in the Autumn Statement only restores education funding per pupils to 2010 levels. Now, with more than twice as many children with SEND in schools and colleges, the government must provide further funding and support, the charity says.
Make all education policy work for SEND pupils so they can achieve their potential, with a clear expectation that every school is a SEND school, every teacher is a SEND teacher, and every policy is a SEND policy.
Publish a plan to develop a valued, skilled, sufficient SEND workforce, backed by resources, with clear timescales.
Ask Ofsted to make the quality of SEND support a greater priority in inspections.
Gather and share evidence on how mainstream education and special schools and colleges can work together to get children the right support, at the right time, in the right place.
Decision makers must listen to autistic young people and their families
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: “The special educational needs system is broken – the government knows this and so do thousands of families who are at crisis point across the country.
“But we fear that key aspects of the government’s SEND review will result in more pain for families, putting at risk current laws that help children with SEND get the assessments, support, and school place they need.
“There are over 125,000 more pupils receiving help for autism in schools now than in 2010. As more pupils come through the SEND system, we must make sure there is the resource and funding to support them.
“We can’t risk making things worse and writing off autistic young people before they’ve even left school. That’s why we are calling on decision-makers to listen to autistic young people and their families and protect the existing laws and funding they rely on.”
To take part in the campaign sign Ambitious about Autism’s petition.