What does a young person with autism want from life? Exactly the same as someone without autism. The chance to develop skills, earn money, become independent (and to have some fun along the way).
We think that’s pretty reasonable - don’t you?
What isn't reasonable is the current lack of opportunities for young people with autism once they finish school.
Our research threw up some shocking statistics. Fewer than one in four young people with autism carry on their education after school. That's a huge amount of wasted potential. We knew something had to be done and thousands of supporters across the country agreed with us.
Together we launched the Finished at School campaign in October 2011 to secure better options for young people once they turned 16.
What did we need to do?
Change legislation to create a clear legal right to educational support up to the age of 25 for young disabled people.
Get in place a funding system that gives young people and families more information, choice and support.
Secure a cross-government focus on outcomes and destinations for young disabled people; and
Work with the further education workforce to develop the skills they needed to support young people with autism to achieve their ambitions.
What did we achieve?
Quite a lot.
But only because of the amazing support from young people with autism, their families, professionals and parliamentarians. They helped us take significant steps forward since the campaign launched in October 2011. The achievements below are a combined effort, delivered with the support of all our campaign partners.
Replaced SEN statements and learning difficulty assessments with a single, simpler 0–25 assessment process and Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.
Provided statutory protections comparable to those currently associated with a statement of SEN up to the age of 25 in further education, instead of being cut off at 16.
Was amended to make sure all decisions about the support a young person gets is based on what they need and want to achieve in life, rather than just how old they are.
Was amended to ensure young people with SEN who undertake apprenticeships will be able to keep their package of support.
A number of steps have been taken to ensure the further education workforce has the skills to support young people with autism to achieve their ambitions
The Autism Education Trust has developed a training programme for professionals in post–16 settings. The programme was launched in October 2014.
The Government announced a bursary programme for SEN staff in further education colleges to develop their skills in areas such as autism.
Destination measures for all young people are now published, and will in future be broken down by type of SEN, to enable better monitoring of outcomes for young people.
Over 30 further education colleges have signed the College Inclusion Charter, which commits colleges to improving their offer to young people with autism and other disabilities.
The Department for Education invested in a pilot project to improve the transition from school to college and community life for young people with autism. This was called the Finished at School Programme and it ran between April 2013 and March 2015.
Read the Finished at School report
Download the Finished at School report (PDF 1,944KB)
Does the work stop here?
Absolutely not. We continue to work with our partners to ensure that every opportunity is taken to create more and better options for young people with autism when they leave school. Between September 2015 and March 2016, we’re delivering training based on the learning from the Finished at School Programme to staff in schools, colleges and local authorities in all regions of England.
We’re coming up to five years since we launched the Finished at School campaign, and this Autumn will be looking at what has changed for young people in those five years, and what more we need to do. If you have suggestions, ideas, or would like further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.