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Question for Department for Education

UIN 6736, tabled on 13 July 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps she is taking to ensure that parents of children and young people with autism receive appropriate support, guidance and information.

Answered on

20 July 2015

The comprehensive reforms to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) system under the Children and Families Act 2014 introduced a range of measures to improve outcomes and support for children and young people with SEN or a disability (SEND) and to ensure their parents are well supported and informed.

Many aspects of the reforms are of particular benefit to the parents of children and young people with autism. In particular, the move to Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans requires local authorities and other agencies to ensure that parents are fully involved at all stages of the process, with opportunities to voice their opinions and concerns. The reforms also introduced Independent Supporters to guide parents through the EHC process.

In addition, schools are required by the 0-25 SEND code of practice to inform parents when they are making special educational provision for a child, to keep them informed of progress and to involve them in planning support for their child. The reforms also make provision to ensure that parents, children and young people are able to access impartial information, advice and support. This is available through a local, dedicated and easily identifiable service which includes help to prepare them for meetings with schools, health professionals or other agencies. Parent carer forums are also a valuable source of information and support for parents of all children with special educational needs, including those whose children have autism.

The department recognises that children and young people with autism can be particularly vulnerable to exclusion from school and that parents may need extra support. In 2015-16 the department is funding a project by the National Autistic Society to provide parents and young people with access to advice and information about exclusions, alternative provision and disability discrimination.

The department also provided £1.5 million during 2013-15 to the Autism EducationTrust. This is an organisation which provides training to early years providers, schools and FE colleges to help deliver an effective education for all children and young people who are autistic. The Department is providing a further £650,000 2015-16 to extend the training and to revise its national autism standards and competency framework for education staff. Since March 2012 over 66,000 education staff have received training.