Dramatic rise in number of autistic children removed from schools

A shock report has revealed that a staggering number of autistic children have been withdrawn from school after schools were struggling to provide the right support and resources.

Figures, published by Welsh councils, show that just under 2,000 autistic pupils were removed from school during 2016/17.

This represents a rise of 864 pupils removed from schools compared to 2013/14.

The Welsh figures suggest that it is secondary school-age pupils who are most affected.

Meleri Thomas, from the National Autistic Society Cymru, said: “A lot of parents are finding themselves in positions where they have no options and the only thing they can do to help their children is to educate them at home even though they might not feel fully equipped to do that or want to.”

She added: “Some parents have told me they have been encouraged to home educate because their child might be affecting the school or local authority’s performance data around exam results or attendance figures.”

A recent report also found that children with autism are four times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than other children. It also found that nearly a quarter of autistic children have been dismissed at some point in their lives.

Ambitious About Autism, which published the report, said: “Not only do children with autism miss out on vital school time because of illegal exclusions, but by going unrecorded or reported the scale of the problem is hidden, making it harder for families to stand up for their children’s rights.

“We know that illegal exclusions are commonplace, with 33 per cent of school leaders confirming that they knew at least one child with autism who had been excluded from their school illegally in the last year.”