The number of children with autism missing from classrooms across England is rising at an alarming rate. New evidence from Ambitious about Autism shows that exclusions of children with autism have increased by 60 per cent over the past five years – rising to nearly 4,500 pupils being excluded in one year. Maria Chambers, director of education at Ambitious about Autism writes in Tes
There are many factors behind this worrying rise, including problems with how exclusions law is understood and enforced in the education system, and with how financial and attainment pressures are affecting schools’ exclusions practice. This is something the government’s independent school exclusions review must examine closely.
But there are also practical steps that schools can take to better support pupils with autism in the classroom. Not only can these help to reduce exclusions, they will also benefit all pupils, too.
1. Training and leadership
For teachers to truly understand autism, learning must begin in initial teacher training, and there must be a willingness within a school’s leadership team to continue professional development around autism.
A Sendco should always be part of this leadership team, and they should drive a positive approach to supporting children with autism, making sure that this is filtered down from the top.
3. Managing change
Disruption to routine can have a much bigger impact on children with autism than other pupils, so explaining changes before they happen is crucial. Support staff can play a key role in helping children to manage this, so it’s vital they are informed well in advance about any changes to lessons, teaching staff or even seating arrangements.
5. Providing extra structure
Children with autism often find unstructured times of the day – such as lunch and breaks – very stressful as they don’t know what is expected of them. Providing extra support during these periods – such as choice boards or structured games – can really help to bring continuity to their day, and ensure they are ready to learn when they return to the classroom.
Read more steps to help benefit pupils with autism Autism: ‘Better support will mean fewer exclusions’
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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