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Educational provision and outcomes for people on the autism spectrum

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A group of researchers and practitioners were commissioned by the AET to determine the educational provision and outcomes for people on the autism spectrum.

This project looked at current educational targets and assessments used for children on the autism spectrum within schools in England and how they relate to children’s outcomes both in the short term but also in the longer term, in adult life.

The research led by Dr Kerstin Wittemeyer of the University of Birmingham, found that teachers are not being given enough guidance or scope to adapt the National Curriculum to include social and life skills for pupils with autism. Moreover schools need to aim higher for their students with autism to ensure adult outcomes are positive – whether in terms of achievement or emotional well-bring - and pupil assessment processes should go beyond those required by the National Curriculum.

The report comprises over 1,000 contributions from stakeholders including adults and children with autism, their parents / carers and education practitioners including teachers, head teachers and SENCOs. Research was conducted using a literature review and via a series of surveys, interviews and focus groups with stakeholders. It is the most comprehensive study to date to consider what ‘good adult outcomes’ for people on the autism spectrum might look like, and the first to consider whether the current education system is able to support pupils with autism reach their goals.

The report concluded that although a ‘typical’ good outcome, such as employment and independence, was desired by some young people and adults as well as by parents, this was not the case for all. Only through robust and regular consultation with children and young people about their aspirations can potential outcomes be identified and prepared for.

outcomes summary download button     outcomes full report download button

If you would like to have further information on this project  please contact the project lead  Dr Kerstin Wittemeyer on 01214158148 or k.wittemeyer@bham.ac.uk. Kerstin works at the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) at the University of Birmingham.

The other members of the project team are (in alphabetical order):
Prof Tony Charman from the Institute of Education London;
James Cusack from the University of Aberdeen;
Dr Karen Guldberg from the School of Education University of Birmingham;
Prof Richard Hastings from the School of Psychology, Bangor University;
Prof Patricia Howlin from the Institute of Psychiatry London;
Dr Natasha Macnab from the School of Education University of Birmingham;
Dr Sarah Parsons from the School of Education University of Southampton;
Dr Liz Pellicano from the Institute of Education London;
Dr Vicky Slonims from Guys and St Thomas Hospital London.