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We Need an Education

Ambitious about Autism was founded with the purpose of creating better educational opportunities for autistic children and young people. We've achieved a lot since we started, but we know many young autistic people still face major barriers preventing them from accessing a rich and fulfilling education. 

To mark our 21st anniversary, we launched our We Need An Education campaign to highlight these problems and fight for change. 

We're calling for change in four key areas.


Getting the right support to meet children's needs is far too difficult. Every child deserves to get the best start at school but many families struggle to get their child's needs assessed promptly and get the right educational support put in place. Nearly 40% of parents wait over 18 months for an assessment for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. 

We need change: A medical diagnosis of autism should automatically trigger an assessment for an EHC plan.



Children with autism are disproportionately at risk from exclusion at school. Formal exclusions of children with autism in England have risen by almost 60% in five years. Meanwhile, 'informal' exclusions slip under the radar. These incidents - such as sending pupils home early or banning them from school trips - are unlawful but go unrecorded. 

55% of families said their child had been unlawfully sent home from school or denied an education. 

We need change: We need to hold the system to account. For example, schools should remain responsible for children they exclude and any found to be acting unlawfully should face penalties.  

Ofsted should have the power to investigate unlawful exclusions and take action. 



School staff need more support to help children with autism thrive. Nine out of ten teachers don't feel prepared to teach children with autism yet statistically, every teacher will teach an autistic pupil.

Young people and teaching staff need more support. 

We need change: We need all teachers and school staff, from governors to teaching assistants, to be fully autism aware and trained to spot and help children with autism. 



Young people with autism deserve a fair chance to continue their learning, yet fewer than one in four young people with autism access education or training beyond school.

This isn't because they don't want to, or don't have the ability, but because the right opportunities and support are missing to enable them to do this. 

We need change: We need to ensure there is enough post-16 specialist provision for young people with autism to pursue their goals. This includes better careers advice and pathways into employment through work experience and autism confident employers. 

How you can get involved

Children are being denied an education simply because they're autistic. It's time to put them back in the picture. Download our short report and campaign flyer below to find out more.