Autism Schools and Transitions

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Schools and Colleges

In this section you can look for schools which support children and young adults with an autistic spectrum condition. Below is some general information on schools and colleges, how special needs are supported and how they are generally funded.

Schools

Schools are overseen by the Department of Education. Local Authorities are responsible for implementing policy in schools. There are 3 age bands for schools:

  • Nursery — ages 3 and 4
  • Primary — ages 5 to 10
  • Secondary — ages 11 to 18

Children are required to stay in the education system until the age of 18.

There are state-funded schools and privately-funded schools. State-funded schools receive their funding from Local Authorities and are free of charge for pupils.

There are a small number of City Technology Colleges and academies. These are secondary schools which are funded directly by the Department for Education. Academies can also accept funding from private individuals or companies.

All state-funded schools are regularly inspected by OfSTED (Office for Standards in Education).

Approximately, 7% of all school children and 18% of secondary school children attend independent schools.

Special Educational Needs in Schools

Special Educational Needs (SEN) is a term used for children who have learning difficulties or difficulties that make it harder for them to learn or access education. If you have any concerns about your child’s learning it is important to get help straight away.

Most children with SEN can be supported in their education and needs within a mainstream school. A school will use the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice to assess your child’s needs and to guide the school in how best to meet your child’s needs.

If your child’s teacher or their SEN co-ordinator (SENCO) feels that your child needs support from outside the school, such as speech and language therapy, they will get help through School Action Plus.

Sometimes, schools cannot fully meet the needs of your child. In that case, you can ask for a ‘statutory assessment’. This assessment will help to identify in detail your child’s educational needs. Once the assessment has been carried out, a ‘statement’ will be written. This statement will help you to access extra support. Sometimes, however, the local authority decides not to write a statement. In this case they should always explain why. You have a right to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. If you decide to appeal it is important to do this within the time limit you are given by the local authority.

Colleges

After school at the age of 16, students will continue their studies in a sixth form college or a further education college. This sector is called Further Education. Further education lasts until the age of 19. There is discretionary financial support for students over the age of 19. Funding is accessed through the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). Colleges also have a variety of adult education courses.

Special Needs in College

Colleges have an obligation to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments for special individual needs. However, sometimes those ‘reasonable’ adjustments are not sufficient to support an individual. In this case, there are specialist colleges which cater specifically for the needs of people with disabilities or learning difficulties. These colleges are usually independent and, often, residential. Funding can be accessed through the Education Funding Agency.