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(UK) Oxfordshire: 100 autistic children not in school says third-party provider

Sept 6, 2021, Oxford Mail: Autism Champions says county council is ‘failing’ Oxfordshire children

Southern England A GROUP which helps autistic children says it has been left in the cold by the county council, putting it at ‘financial risk’. Dee Nic Sitric, director of Oxfordshire-based Autism Champions, says Oxfordshire County Council is failing children by not recognising the group as an alternative education provider. Ms Nic Sitric added that more than 100 autistic children in the county are out of education due to school-related anxiety and trauma. Autism Champions was invited by the council to join a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS), to support the provision of alternative provision, however Ms Nic Sitric said the system is ‘broken’. She said: “Oxfordshire County Council invited applicants to tender to join a DPS, to support the provision of alternative provision, however the system is broken and is causing delays, untold stress and anxiety for those pupils and their families who are currently struggling to access provision…. “As it stands, the county council is failing autistic children by not processing our alternative education provision application in a timely manner which prevents us from being formally recognised as an alternative education provision and in turn, prevents us from being paid and engaging with these vulnerable children. “We have had inadequate email updates or unreliable feedback from the purchasing department and the commissioning lead. “I feel as a service, the county council is failing in its role and putting children at risk by not processing our alternative education provision application…. “That aside, at the centre of this are the needs of the young people across the county who are not accessing any form of education and require specialist support.” Ms Nic Sitric added that many schools don’t know enough about autism and how to adapt their environment to support autistic children, with the children instead changing to fit the school. A spokesperson for the county council said the local authority is in discussion with Autism Champions with its application…. “Autism Champions was invited to register as a third-party provider, which the council could consider for services for autistic children in the future. “The council has robust quality standards required in order to be registered on our supplier system, known as the Dynamic Purchasing System….


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