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(UK) "160,000 autistic pupils in schools across England"; 42K sign petition for more support

Feb 23, 2022, National Autistic Society: Education petition hand-in

Over 40,000 people sign petition to save autistic children’s futures We received a great response to our recent education petition, with over 42,237 people calling on Nadhim Zahawi MP and the Government to invest in autistic children’s futures. This sends a powerful message to the Government ahead of its review of the special educational needs and disabilities system (SEND) in England, which is expected in the next few weeks. We delivered our petition to the Department for Education in person on 22 February and followed this with a demonstration in Parliament Square. We battled the elements to put up our cardboard building blocks, spelling out ‘Save Autistic Kids’ Futures’. Thank you to everyone who supported this petition and to Clifford Chance, whose kind support made this project possible. BACKGROUND In November, we published our School Report which found that the education system is simply not working for autistic children in England and that parents are facing exhausting and sometimes years-long battles to get support for autistic children in school. Our report, which is based on surveys of over 4000 parents, carers, autistic children and young people, in Summer 2021, found: • A quarter (26%) of parents waited over three years to receive support for their child • Three quarters (74%) said their child’s school place did not fully meet their needs – this has almost doubled since 2017 • Only one in four parents are satisfied with the special educational needs support their child is receiving • Less than half of autistic children are happy in school • 44% feel their child’s special educational needs are not being met in general • Seven in ten autistic children and young people said school would be better if more teachers understood autism. • There are over 160,000 autistic pupils in schools across England.* Over 70% are in mainstream school, with the rest in specialist education, home educated or out of education altogether. Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “No-one should have to wait years for support in school. Yet this is the reality for many autistic children who are falling behind without the right support, facing exclusion or even out of education altogether. The Government’s upcoming SEND review is an opportunity to fix the education system, to live up to the promise of the 2014 SEND reforms. This means making sure councils, schools and teachers have the resources they need to support autistic children in their area, including introducing autism training for all school staff. “We urge Nadhim Zahawi, the Secretary of State for Education, to listen to the voices of the 42,237 people who signed our petition and give autistic children a chance.”…


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