In February 2018, The National Autistic Society Scotland, Children in Scotland and Scottish Autism undertook a survey to explore the experiences of autistic children who had missed time from school. Findings from the survey have now been published in a a report called Not included, not engaged, not involved – the experiences of autistic children missing school. The three charities who undertook the work believe the results “suggest that some autistic children are not having their right to an education fulfilled and are missing a significant and concerning amount of school”.
1,417 parents of autistic children who had missed school in the last 2 years responded to the survey. Of those:
- 13% reported their child had been formally excluded
- 34% said their child had been unlawfully excluded (sent home from school without being formally excluded)
- 28% said their child had been placed on a part-time timetable
The report sets out nine calls for action that the charities believe would make significant improvements in the educational experiences of autistic children as well as for other children with additional support needs. Calls for action include:
- stopping the use of unlawful exclusions and inappropriate use of part-time timetables
- improving the availability of specialist teachers
- reviewing the availability of appropriate placements for autistic children
- enhancing programmes of initial teacher training and continual professional development to improve understanding of autism.
You can read the full Not included, not engaged, not involved report here.
Help if your child is being excluded from school
The Scottish Government’s guidance on managing and preventing exclusions, Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2, sets out the approach that schools and local authorities should use to try and reduce the need to exclude pupils from school. It also explains the processes that have to be followed when a child is excluded.
There are several parts of the guidance that are useful to highlight. In particular, the guidance says that:
- exclusion should only be used as a last resort
- exclusions must be for as short a period as possible, with the aim of improving outcomes for the child or young person
- the time during and after exclusion should be used to resolve the situation and make sure that the right support is in place
- the wellbeing of the child or young person should be the key consideration when managing exclusions
- schools must formally record all exclusions, and pupils must not be sent home on ‘informal exclusions’ or for a ‘cooling off period’
- if a pupil is excluded on multiple occasions, this highlights that the support in place isn’t working and a different approach is needed.
The guidance also includes checklists that should be used to make sure that the right processes are followed and the right support is in place. If your child has been excluded, or is at risk of exclusion, it might be helpful to use the checklists in discussions with the school to make sure that your child has all the support they need. Other helpful advice and information as available from:
- The Missing out on education pages of this of website.
- Our Exclusion from school factsheet
- If your child is autistic, the National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service.