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(UK) Majority of Scottish parents of autistic students let down by schools

Nov 13, 2019, (UK) Aberdeen (Scotland) Evening Express: North-east autistic children ‘not reaching full potential’, says survey Nearly two in three parents of children with autism and additional support needs feel their child had not reached their “fullest potential” in school, a new survey has revealed. A total of 147 responses were gathered from parents as part of an online survey created by parent/carer support group Autism and Other Conditions Aberdeen…. She said the council “urgently needs” to develop a policy that ensures children with additional support needs receive an education that allows them to achieve their “fullest potential”. She added: “The education of children with additional support needs (ASN) must be directed towards them reaching their fullest potential, yet only 21% of parents thought they were achieving this. … Meanwhile, the findings of the survey also showed more than 27% of parents surveyed said their child did not attend school full time over the last year, with more than 12% attending half the time or less. A total of 95 survey responses were from parents of children with autism, accounting for almost 20% of children with autism in mainstream schools in Aberdeen…. “However, part-time attendance was reported as lasting up to seven years, with an average time of 14 months in primary school and one year in secondary schools.” The school environment was considered poor or very poor at meeting their child’s needs in 36% of cases, and in 28% of cases, spaces children accessed away from their class due to their additional support needs did not meet their needs either. Size, noise, distractions and embarrassment were all given as reasons why these spaces were deemed unsuitable by the parents surveyed. … One in five children missed out on school trips due to lack of support or because the school asked them not to attend and a further 7% were only able to go because parents accompanied them. The results showed the council has a “lot of work to do” to develop an inclusive practice in schools, the secretary of the group told councillors. She claimed the ability to provide an inclusive service had been “hampered” by apparent problems with staff retention within the educational psychologist service, which has led to a halving of posts in just a couple of years, and called for a “rapid external investigation” to be held into the causes of this. It was previously revealed that the numbers of educational psychologists at the local authority has dropped from around 23 full-time posts a few years ago to 19.6 in 2017-18, then to 18.6 in 2018-19, with a budget for 15.4 now, of which only 9.8 posts are filled. …


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