News archive

March 2013

On Wednesday 13 March, the APPGA held a meeting with Care Minister Norman Lamb MP to discuss the forthcoming review of the adult autism strategy.

The minutes for the meeting can be found here.

February 2013

On Monday 11 February, the APPGA held a meeting with Education Minister, Edward Timpson, to discus changes to the special educational needs (SEN) system contained in the Children and Families Bill.

The meeting focused on issues such as parental rights, the replacement of Statements with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) and the extension of provision up to the age of 25.

The minutes for the meeting can be found here.

July 2012

Launch of APPGA report on SEN

MPs support campaign to improve education for children with autism

On 11 July, the APPGA launched its latest report, on reform of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system in England. The event took place in Parliament and was attended by Children’s Minister Sarah Teather MP (pictured).  

The aim of the event was to publicise the report, The right start: reforming the system for children with autism, to MPs and Peers, in order to raise awareness of the issues facing children and young people with autism.

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • every school having a lead teacher for autism
  • every child and young person with autism (include those without statements) to have an Action Plan
  • support for all young people with SEND up to 25.

The aim is for these recommendations to be included in the Children and Families Bill, which will contain sweeping changes to the SEND system. A draft of the Bill is expected in September. 

The event was hosted by Robert Buckland MP, Chair of the APPGA, and was attended by a large number of MPs and Peers, as well as people with autism, parents and representatives from across the autism sector. 

Welcoming the report, Children's Minister Sarah Teather MP said:

"This report makes some extremely valuable recommendations. It was based on a serious inquiry, which involved young people and their parents at every level, in keeping with the spirit of our reforms. 

"I am considering all aspects of the report and welcome the ongoing contribution of the APPG for Autism, and of individuals, parents and organisations from the sector. We are very serious about getting the details of these changes right."

Two young people with autism also spoke at the event about their experiences. Jacob Denness, a young ambassador for The National Autistic Society, said:

"MPs need to be pushy for people with autism in their constituency. We have taken the first steps to helping every child and person with autism and it's up to you to push for more."

Josie Ryan, Young Patron of Ambitious About Autism, said:

"I know what it feels like to be the invisible one in a mainstream school surrounded by teachers who have no idea. I also know what it feels like to have a teacher who points out everything I can do and what I am good at rather than what I can’t do. Now that I have got the help that I need, I want to get as many, if not all, young people who need support in education the help they need so they can achieve what they want to."

PDF of the report is available, as is an autism-friendly version. For a hard copy of the report, please email

June 2012

The APPGA has now published our report, The right start: reforming the system for children with autism. Many thanks to all those who have contributed their time and expertise to ensuring it is a success. 

Among the proposals, we are recommending that as part of the forthcoming reforms in the Children and Families Bill, the Government ensures:

Every school has a lead teacher for autism

  • All children and young people with autism and special educational needs (SEN) have an action plan (including those without Statements or the proposed Education, Health and Care Plans)

  • There is meaningful support for all young people with autism and SEN up to 25 years, including those not in further education

The report, The right start: reforming the system for children with autism, follows the APPGA’s public survey.

  • 84% of respondents to our survey said teachers are not given enough training to support children with autism effectively. 

  • Fewer than half of parents and children with autism (43%) thought they were involved in shaping the support the child receives at school. 

  • A similar proportion of autism professionals agreed that parents were involved in shaping this support.

  • 94% of parents and 80% of teachers said parents should be more involved.

In addition to the survey, MPs and Peers heard expert evidence from young people with autism, parents, teachers and other autism professionals. Transcripts of the two evidence sessions help in Parliament in March are available from the news archive.

Robert Buckland MP, Chair of the APPGA, said:

"Securing the right support at school can be a very difficult task, and for some families it becomes an all-consuming battle.

"Teachers, teaching assistants and other support staff work tirelessly with children and young people with autism and SEN in the classroom while parents do the same at home.

"However, there are too many instances where parents are left feeling that their child’s needs are not being met and far too many instances where teachers are left without the necessary specialist training or resources.

"A transformation of the SEN system is vital if we are to ensure that people with autism have the same life opportunities as everyone else, namely the ability to contribute to society, to enter the workplace and to realise their aspirations. We cannot afford to shirk the challenge."

A PDF version of the report is available. For a hard copy, please email

March 2012

As part of our Commission into SEN reform, the All-Party Parliamentary Group heard evidence from a wide variety of witnesses during two oral sessions. 
Please see below the list of witnesses.
Young people with autism and parents of young people with autism

  • Josie Ryan – Youth Patron of Ambitious about Autism
  • Jacob Denness – National Autistic Society Young Campaigner
  • Jonathan Meth – Parent and Trustee of Ambitious about Autism
  • Michele Hart – Parent and National Autistic Society Ambassador

Teaching professionals

  • Dr Rona Tutt – Former head teacher and former president of the National Association of Head Teacher
  • Mr Paul Williams – Chair, National Association of Head Teachers’ SEND Committee and Head teacher of Shaftesbury High School in Harrow
  • Mrs Alice Stow – Leader of the Special Resourced Provision for Pupils with ASD, King's Oak Primary School
  • Ms Penny Barratt – The Bridge School, Islington

Autism experts

  • Dr Glenys Jones, Lecturer in Autism, School of Education, University of Birmingham
  • Ms Kate Fallon, General Secretary, Association of Educational Psychologists
  • Professor Neil Humphrey, Professor of Psychology of Education, University of Manchester
  • Ms Kamini Gadhok, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists


  • Sarah Teather MP, Minister of State for the Department of Education
  • Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister of State for the Department of Education

Please find transcripts of the two sessions in PDF:

NB: there may be omissions in places where the recording did not work.

Children's Minister gives evidence about special educational needs reform

On 6 March, the Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather MP, gave evidence to members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Autism (APPGA) on the Government’s proposals for special educational needs (SEN) reform.  

The Minister told the cross-party panel of MPs and Peers that the Government would publish a Next Steps document ‘imminently’, in response to the Green Paper consultation last year. She also said the relationship between parents and local authorities was 'not working' at present, promising that her planned reforms would ensure greater transparency and closer joint-working between education, health and social care services. Her ambition was that parents would no longer have to fight for the services their children need. 

The parliamentary group, chaired by Robert Buckland MP, also heard evidence from the Shadow Children’s Minister Sharon Hodgson MP, as well as young people with autism, parents, teachers, academics and other professionals. Discussion focused on a range of issues from teacher training and autism awareness in mainstream schools, to transition arrangements and the need to ensure that children with autism access further education, training and employment after finishing at school. 

The group will use the evidence gathered in these oral evidence sessions to inform a forthcoming report on SEN reform, which will be published and presented directly to the Government later this year. Its recommendations will also include findings from a public survey of more than 1,150 people with autism, parents and teachers. 

The panel of MPs and Peers included Robert Buckland MP (Chair), Steve Brine, Jonathan Reynolds MP, Lord Touhig, Graham Stuart MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, Charlotte Leslie MP, Karen Lumley MP, Russell Brown MP, Neil Parish MP, and Lord Clement-Jones. 

You can also download past reports of the APPGA.