Nov 3, 2017, UK Schools Week: 65% of special free schools are for autism https://schoolsweek.co.uk/65-of-special-free-schools-are-for-autism/ Autism-specific free schools are continuing to dominate new special free school approvals, with more than half of those in the pipeline having it as a focus. However, SEND experts are openly asking whether this one area of need is receiving too much attention. “We need to know what analysis has been done to show 65 per cent of all new special schools should focus on autism, and how the need of other groups of pupils is going to be met,” said Simon Knights, the director of Whole School SEND, a membership body that supports SEND provision in schools. Of the 29 special needs free schools open since 2011, 62 per cent have autism as a primary or secondary focus, figures obtained by Schools Week show. Among the 40 new special schools with approval to open, meanwhile, 65 per cent are autism-specific.