Autism (October 2023)

"Thank you for contacting me about autistic people's experiences of education.


I will endeavour to attend the National Autistic Society’s parliamentary event on 1 November if my diary allows.


I fully acknowledge that children and young people with autism face a number of challenges at school. I take a personal interest in this, and improving education for autistic children and young people and providing better support for their families are issues which I campaign for. I recently attended the All Party Parliamentary Group for School Exclusion and Alternative Provision inquiry session specifically addressing inclusion for autistic students in mainstream schools. 


My colleagues at the Department for Education are aware of these barriers and are working to ensure that all students with autism receive the education they deserve.


In March this year, the Government published its Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and Alternative Provision (AP) Improvement Plan. The Improvement Plan sets out that the Government will establish a single national system that delivers for every child and young person with special educational needs and disabilities from birth to age 25 so that they enjoy their childhood, achieve good outcomes, and are well prepared for their next step, whether that’s employment, higher education or adult services.


The transformation of the system will be underpinned by new national SEND and AP standards, which will give families confidence in what support they should receive and who will provide and pay for it, regardless of where they live. There will be new guides for professionals to help them provide the right support in line with the national standards but suited to each child’s unique experience, setting out for example how to make adjustments to classrooms to ensure a child remains in mainstream education. 

This package forms part of the Government’s significant investment into children and young people with SEND and in AP, with investment increasing by more than 60 per cent, compared with 2019-20, to over £10.5 billion by 2024-25.


The Government’s current Autism Strategy will run from 2021 to 2026 and is being implemented to improve the lives of children and adults with autism. This strategy aims to: tackle the barriers autistic people face so they can live independent and fulfilling lives; ensure faster diagnosis and better access to health and social care for autistic people of all ages; and support better education tailored to the needs of autistic children and young people.


This strategy was backed by £75 million in its first year alone, £40 million of which is through the NHS Long Term Plan to improve capacity in crisis services and support children with complex needs in inpatient care.


Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.


Yours sincerely,


Sally-Ann Hart MP."