top of page

(UK) Essex: Petition calls for child care providers to be trained in autism/ADHD

Jan 6, 2023, Essex County Standard: Colchester mum's campaign on SEN training in schools attracts support

E. England

A MUM’S fight to bring mandatory training in special educational needs to all schools has attracted council support after it was revealed more than 10,000 adults in Essex have a form of autism.

Emma Osborne, from Colchester, has launched a petition urging the Government to take action over special educational needs (SEN) training in schools.

A report to Essex County Council’s health overview policy and scrutiny committee revealed a total of 11,474 adults in Essex are predicted to have autistic spectrum disorders.

This number is expected to increase to 12,606 by 2035.

Committee member Dave Harris, councillor for Maypole division, raised Emma’s campaign, calling for backing from council officers.

He said: “She said to me, and she was backed up by a couple of people, that the lack of understanding in the early years setting and schools can prove a bit of a fight for parents.

“Even worse, a lot of those children go through early years struggling and showing signs, but sometimes due to a lack of training they dismiss these early signs as perhaps a child being lazy or naughty or something like that when it’s not true.”

Chris Martin, director of strategic commissioning and policy for children and families at Essex County Council, said he would support “any initiative which raises awareness and provides suitable training” in schools.

He added: “Awareness around autism is growing, but in terms of how well-embedded that awareness is I think it’s relatively early days.

“You’ll be aware the big early years element in Essex is provided by the Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service, in partnership with HCRG care group and Bernardo’s.

“One of the priority groups of young people and children, particularly pre-school children, are children who are displaying behaviours you might associate with autism.

“It’s not necessarily that they have autism or have a diagnosis, but the point of the service is to help those children and those families who might be displaying behaviours.

“The diagnostic element, if it’s helpful, is there, that’s an option – but that’s not necessarily the endpoint.

“The endpoint is can we successfully support this child and this family? If diagnosis is part of that, so be it.”

Emma’s petition, which had attracted more than 100 signatures, calls for all early years, non-SEN schools and child services to have compulsory training in autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and behavioural support awareness.

She said: “Moving forward all childcare qualifications should include a unit in SEN too. “The Government should support settings with the cost of the training to all staff and the training should be refreshed every year.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Early this year we will set out our ambitious programme of improvement to the special educational needs system, taking into account parent and stakeholder views on our reform proposals, including for a new qualification for teachers training as SENCos.”


bottom of page