National Autistic Society publishes updated Education Report 2023

16 Jun 23
Teacher standing at the front of a classroom in front of pupils in school uniform. The pupils are smiling.

National Autistic Society publishes updated Education Report 2023

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Key findings from the 2021 report include:

Only 26% of autistic pupils feel happy at school. Almost three in four parents (74%) said their child’s school place did not fully meet their needs. More than one in four parents (26%) waited over three years to receive support for their child.  Seven in ten (70%) autistic children and young people said school would be better if more teachers understood autism. Over half of autistic pupils (54%) said they don’t have a quiet place to go to at school. Only 53% of autistic children and young people said they have someone to go to if there is a problem at school. 54% of autistic students said that having teachers who don’t understand them is the worst thing about school.  Without appropriate teacher training, autistic children are twice as likely to be excluded from school.  Over half (51%) of autistic students wanted help to understand how to get on with their peers. 50% of parents were dissatisfied with their child’s education, health and care (EHC) needs assessment planning process.


Identifying issues, voicing concerns, recommending change

Reflecting on these figures, the NAS identifies issues, voices concerns from teachers, pupils and parents, and makes recommendations for:

  • Schools,
  • Local Governments
  • National Governments

The report considers each of the following:

  • Understanding amongst teachers
  • Sensory overload
  • Exams
  • Understanding amongst peers
  • Bullying
  • Transitions
  • Callum Centres

And throughout, we see quotes from pupils, parents and education professionals about their lived experiences.

“I just think the impact on the mental wellbeing for some kids... [I] don’t think they quite understand the trauma experienced by sitting in a classroom of that size.”

Parent of an autistic child


“It frustrates me when students are not attending school because those reasonable adjustments haven’t been made.”

Teacher at a Cullum Centre school


“No one knows about autism and they think it’s a joke.”

Autistic student


Some recommendations are achievable by the schools themselves, and some recommendations are made to the UK Government, locally and nationally, to increase funding for growing needs.

The Autism Education Trust’s Professional Development Programme is one of these recommendations.

We recommend that all school staff receive mandatory autism training delivered by the Autism Education Trust (AET). Through the AET’s Professional Development Programme, they have been able to train over 350,000 professionals working with autistic children and young people.  

The National Government recommendation is:

[To] fund the AET to deliver training for all education staff and governors in all schools so that they are fully able to support autistic pupils and students. Tackle the unacceptable practice of informal exclusions, setting out plans to identify where this is happening and taking action to instil better understanding and support in schools. Set a clear commitment that all work on behaviour in the Department for Education reflects the support needs of autistic children and other children with SEND. Set clear targets for reducing the number of exclusions of autistic children.

Discover more about NAS Education Report 2023.

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