Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Great Expectations launches in Parliament
Yesterday saw the successful launch of our new campaign Great Expectations in Parliament.
NAS President Jane Asher (pictured) reflected on the struggles parents had to get the help their children needed at school. She stressed how important it was to get help in early and how much money this could save in the long run.
Disabilities Minister Maria Miller responded to the campaign on behalf of the Government. She said that the special educational needs (SEN) "system was broken" and that the Government were determined to fix it through proposals set out in the SEN Green Paper.
She also said that getting support in place for children with autism was in her experience a particular battle. Some schools were able to be fully inclusive of children on the spectrum, so others should be able to do it too. At the moment, being able to access the right support seemed to be based on luck, she added.
Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham stressed the importance of cross party working on SEN reforms to make sure that Government got the reforms right. He noted the success of cross party working on the Autism Act.
Two parents of children with autism also spoke at the event about their experiences of having to fight the system. Sadly, the research we carried out for the campaign showed that their experiences were all too common. The research, based on survey responses from over 1,000 children with autism and parents and focus groups accross the country, showed:
- 48% of parents say they have waited over a year to get the right support for their child, and 27% have waited more than two years.
- 18% of parents have had to take legal action to get the right support for their children, and have been to tribunal an average of 3.5 times each
- Just half of parents (52%) feel their child is making good educational progress.
- 43% of young people feel teachers don’t know enough about autism.
The campaign calls for a system in which parents are treated as equal partners and genuinely involved in decisions about their child’s education and the planning of local services, and for all children with autism to be able to get the support they need quickly and easily, from teachers who understand how to support them.
The event was hosted by the vice chair of the all party parliamentary group on autism Steve Brine MP. It was well attended - the room was full of MPs, peers, parents of children with autism, children with autism and professionals.
The NAS is calling on all MPs and peers to support the campaign and help ensure that we use the Government's proposed reforms of the SEN system as an opportunity to get things right for children with autism. Please support the campaign, by emailing your MP.