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Exclusions review
Friday 10 May 2019

The Exclusions Review leaves a ‘big question mark’ over support for autistic pupils in school

Ambitious about Autism Chief Executive Jolanta Lasota, said: 

“An alarming number of children with autism are missing from our education system and the Exclusions Review was an opportunity to take decisive action. 

“However, a big question mark remains over how effective its recommendations – many of which require further consultation - will be in supporting more autistic pupils to achieve a full and rewarding education. 

“Proposals to make schools accountable for pupils they exclude and reduce the fixed term exclusions limit will go some way to protecting pupils from falling out of education altogether - but these measures only come into play once schools have made the decision to exclude. 

"We must have more proactive strategies that would ensure vulnerable children’s needs are better understood and supported at an earlier stage in their education before they reach crisis point. 

“We know from our work with autistic young people and their families that a failure to support the particular differences that autism brings can often result in pupils having ‘meltdowns’ or ‘shutdowns’ which can lead to behaviour that challenges. It is critical therefore that these differences are taken into account under the rollout of a so called ‘crackdown’ on poor behaviour in schools. Otherwise we fear autistic pupils that can’t conform to new behaviour rules will become increasingly marginalised. 

“Finally, the review has also failed to tackle the widespread problem of unlawful exclusions. 56% of the families we surveyed said their autistic child had been unlawfully sent home or denied a full education. The government has made it very clear that unlawful exclusions should never happen – and yet if schools are not held to account when they break the law, these incidents will continue to slip under the radar. The result is autistic pupils missing out of thousands of hours of education they are entitled to and being pushed out of mainstream education.”