Nearly a third of parents of children with autism have had to give up their jobs as a result of school exclusions, according to a new survey.
The charity Ambitious about Autism surveyed over 900 parents and carers of children and young people with autism to find out their experiences of the education system.
The survey showed 30% of parents said they had given up their job as a result of school exclusions; 29% said they had missed days from work; and 20% said they had reduced their working hours to part time.
Parents also reported an increase in the number of unlawful exclusions affecting their children – with 56% saying their child had been sent home early, worked on a reduced timetable or asked not to come on a school trip – without an official letter being received. This marks a significant increase since a similar survey in 2016 when 45% of parents reported that their child had suffered an unlawful school exclusion.
The survey also revealed that nearly 40% of those who have a child with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC) said they had waited over 18 months for an assessment despite a 20-week statutory deadline for assessments. EHC plans place a legal obligation on local authorities to provide extra support for pupils with special educational needs.
Meanwhile 90% of parents said the stress of getting their child the right support at school caused them to lose sleep.
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: “Children and young people with autism and their families are being badly let down by our education system.
“It’s very worrying that parents are reporting an increase in ‘unofficial’ exclusions – such as children being banned from school trips or sent home early. These add up to hundreds of hours of missed education, but they slip under the radar because they are not officially recorded. We must make sure schools are held to account if they break exclusions rules.
“The wider cost to families – and society – resulting from problems at school is very troubling. Parents are having to give up jobs to look after children forced out of education – creating even more stress and instability in their lives. We must work towards a more inclusive education system for the benefit of all.”
Earlier this year, Ambitious about Autism published findings showing official exclusions of autistic pupils have increased by nearly 60% increase since 2011.