The recent report published by the National Autistic Society and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism found that 70% of parents of children with autism say that support was not put in place quickly enough for their child. Additionally, fewer than 5 in 10 teachers say that they are confident about supporting a child on the autism spectrum. The report recommended for the Government to develop a national autism and education strategy by the end of 2019.
I believe that teachers should be given the knowledge and skills they need to be able to identify and support children with autism through the training they receive. Indeed, at the General Election in June 2017, the Labour manifesto committed to deliver a strategy for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) based on inclusivity, and which pledged to embed SEND more substantially into training for teachers and non-teaching staff, so that staff, children and their parents are properly supported.
The manifesto also set the ambition to make our country autism-friendly and committed to make sure autistic people are able to access the whole of their community. All children with autism deserve access to high quality, full-time education. Unfortunately Labour did not win the election.
The Conservative Government had a manifesto commitment to improve standards of care for those with learning disabilities and autism and have stated that they would consider the recommendations of the Autism and Education report carefully. I can assure you that I will hold the Government to account on this.
I will continue to press the Government to do more to support families seeking to access appropriate.