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ATL Conference Academy schools shun autistic children to move up league tables, teachers hear

ACADEMY schools are shutting out autistic children in order to move up the league tables, teachers heard today.

The accusation was levelled as new figures suggested nearly a quarter of kids with special needs are not in a school.

Specialist teacher Sarah Courtney said the mainstream school where she worked was transferring autistic children to another school in the area.

This was due to “financial issues meaning the lower set classes were full,” she told the National Education Union’s ATL section conference.

“It indicates that the school is not interested in children with fairly high levels of additional needs,” she said. “Why? Because, I assume, this may have a detrimental effect on the school’s precious results.”

She said similar cases had been “noted anecdotally” in other schools in the same multi-academy trust, and elsewhere across Britain.

“I feel we need to be especially vigilant that academies may be unwilling to provide for children with complex needs due to results and, therefore, money,” Ms Courtney said.

The NEU released a poll today of 444 parents of children with special needs and disabilities.

Twenty-four per cent said their child was not currently in school at all. Seventeen per cent registered part-time schooling and 59 per cent full-time.

Three-quarters of parents said they were not given adequate support to help their child, while 52 per cent said their child was not in the kind of provision they wanted for them.

Durham delegate Emma Parker said the “crisis” in support for kids with special needs and disabilities had reached “epidemic proportions” in recent years.

“There is no money, there are no places, there is no support,” she said.

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