Monday, November 21, 2011

'Achievement for All' achieves great results

A Government-funded pilot of a new scheme to improve outcomes for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has produced excellent results, according to an independent evaluation carried out by the University of Manchester. Because of this, the Government now aims to fund its implementation in schools across the country.

The Achievement for All scheme has been running in 450 schools for the last two years, and has resulted in children with SEND make greater progress in attainment, behaviour and attendance than other SEND children outside of the pilot. The report also finds that the scheme successfully narrowed the attainment gap between SEND and non-SEND children, with some children in the pilot even exceeding the progress of children without SEND.

Key findings of the report include:
  • 37% of children achieved or exceeded expected levels of progress for all pupils nationally in English. The figure was 42% in Maths.
  • There was an average reduction in persistent absence of 10%
  • Teachers reported fewer incidents of bullying and behavioural problems
  • A big rise in schools reporting excellent relationships with parents – from 12% to 48%
The report found that the most successful schools shared several key factors. Good results were built on strong leadership from the head teacher, regular conversations with parents about educational outcomes and targets, and the sharing of results between schools. The report also found that children with free school meals, English as a second language, or complex needs made progress that was good but slower than their peers. It recommends focusing resources on additional support for these groups.

The Government is now providing £14 million for the programme to be rolled out across the country, and estimates that 1,000 schools will have signed up for the programme by next April. Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said:

"It's fantastic to see that Achievement for All has had such impressive results. This shows just what can be achieved for children with SEND with strong school leadership, innovative thinking and close working with families.”

The programme is being delivered by a new charity, Achievement for All 3 As, supported by PwC. Brian Lamb, who headed the enquiry into SEN and now chairs the new charity, commented:

"The evaluation totally endorses Achievement for All's approach. For the first time we now have a proven intervention that can improve outcomes and change the lives of children and families. By adopting this approach schools can ensure that children with SEN have the chance to reach their full potential."

If you’re interested in finding out more about these brilliant results, you can visit Achievement for All’s website at The full report into the scheme’s progress is also available here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Anti-bullying week: new research finds two-thirds of parents report bullying

It’s anti-bullying week this week, and new research has highlighted the extent to which bullying is a real and distressing part of the lives of young people with ASD.

The survey was carried out by author and campaigner Anna Kennedy. Anna has two sons, one with autism and one with Asperger syndrome, and after being turned away by a staggering 26 special schools she took matters into her own hands and founded her own school, Hillingdon Manor in Middlesex.

The survey was conducted online and generated over 900 responses from people affected by ASD including parents, carers and teachers. Disturbingly, 61% of parents reported that their child had been bullied at school because of their ASD, and of those 73% said the school had either ignored the problem or handled it poorly. The vast majority of parents – 93% – said that their child’s educational progress had been seriously affected by the bullying.

Commenting on the survey results, Anna said “I believe this is a national scandal … I urge the Government not to ignore this problem because it is not going away and is getting worse. We must increase the number of special needs schools or facilities within mainstream establishments if we are going to tackle it effectively.” She stressed that bullying can lead to further problems later on in life, adding “If we don’t do something now we will face much higher costs in the future when we have to care for those with ASC”.

Our own Great Expectations campaign has highlighted the need for better autism awareness in schools – staff need a good understanding of the issues young people with autism face, including their vulnerability to bullying. Our own survey also found that one in three young people would like their peers to have a better understanding of autism.

ChildLine has been working with Anna Kennedy to develop some new resources for its website. Children with autism, or those who have friends or family with the condition, can now access information and support online. Find the site at Anna Kennedy’s own website,, also offers a range of advice for families affected by autism.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NAS supports Ambitious About Autism campaign for better post-16 education

The National Autistic Society is supporting Ambitious About Autism’s new campaign, ‘Finished at School: What next for young people with autism?’.

The campaign aims to secure more and better educational options for all young people with autism aged 16 – 25 to enable them to develop skills, gain employment, live more independently and ultimately live the life they choose.

Ambitious About Autism reports that currently, less than 1 in 4 people with autism carry on with education post-16. Their report highlights the lack of appropriate opportunities for young people with autism wishing to continue their education. Without further educational support, many young people struggle to enter into employment and community living.

The campaign calls for:

  • a clear legal right for educational support up to the age of 25 for young disabled people;
  • a funding system that gives young people and families more education, choice and support;
  • a cross-government focus on outcomes and destinations for young disabled people and
  • a further education workforce with the skills to support young people with autism.
The NAS is pleased to support Ambitious About Autism’s campaign. The post-16 transition period can be challenging for people with autism, and both charities have welcomed the proposal in the SEND Green Paper to extend Education, Health and Care Plans, which will replace statements  to age 25.

You can find out more information about the campaign by visiting and following the link. You can also sign an online pledge showing your support for the campaign, email your MP asking for their support, read the full Finished at School report, and share your own story.