I am proud to have backed the National Autistic Society and Ambitious About Autism campaign, Held Back, to ensure the Government introduces a national autism and educational strategy.
I have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds MP urging him to take action to make sure the 120,000 school-aged children on the autism spectrum in England are no longer held back. This joins over 20,000 other individuals who signed this open letter.
The open letter to the Secretary of State for Education was handed to Damian Hinds MP at a reception in Parliament on 31 January, which I was proud to attend. The letter is in response to an autism and education report which was launched in November 2017 by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) alongside the National Autistic Society.
The APPGA report was published following an inquiry, which included a survey of over 3,000 parents, carers, young people and teachers. There were also expert witness evidence sessions in Parliament. The findings, which came three years after the Government introduced a new special educational needs and disability (SEND) system in England, showed that the education system was still failing to meet the needs of autistic children and young people.
I have spoken with constituents and heard personal accounts from families who are still struggling to secure the right school provision and education support for their autistic child.
This issue is so important. We must ensure all autistic children receive the education they deserve, so that no child is held back because they’re autistic.