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Children with Autism deserve 'good' school places too.......

This petition had 2,686 supporters

My name is Paul Barrett and my son, Cameron (pictured) has autism. I have come to for your help. 

Like many other parents I have tried to research the best provisions available for my son but what I have uncovered in the last 15 months is saddening for the prospects of children with autism in East Kent. Here are some of the facts that I find hard to accept,

  • Schools that have a designation of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as their primary need are oversubscribed meaning that many children with autism have to go into other special schools with a different designation or even into independent schools. Last year an additional 62 children with autism were placed into the independent sector by Kent County Council (KCC).
  • Many children with autism in East Kent have to travel across different areas and even across the whole county each day to get to and from their school.
  • In East Kent alone, 103 pupils with a primary need of ASD are educated in independent schools because KCC cannot find a placement for them in maintained special schools.
  • East Kent has the highest Special Educational Needs (SEN) tribunal and appeals rate against them in the county and one of the highest in the country regarding parents wanting their child to be educated in a special school.
  • The number of Educational Health Care Plans (EHCP's) for ASD in East Kent has increased by 37% and continues to grow at the fastest rate as the most prevalent need within the county.
  • East Kent has the highest proportion of need for ASD children but yet KCC requests sponsors for a Special Free School in West Kent that will have no significant impact on the ASD need within East Kent.
  • In East Kent, 93% of new EHCP's relate to the primary need of ASD.

Although KCC recognises the great importance to further expand places for children with autism they plan to add Special Resource Based Provisions (SRBP's) or Satellite Provisions onto mainstream schools. Research into these provisions brings about many concerns for parents and educationalists that work in this area. Furthermore, a number of these existing provisions/ satellites and even those schools that have been linked to develop these addition ASD places are either judged as 'requiring improvement' or 'inadequate' by Ofsted. Such schools are located in Canterbury, Ashford and Maidstone.

The children with autism in our community deserve better...............and that's why for the last 15 months I have been working with a steering group of 12 educational experts to challenge KCC's plans and to create a new financially viable secondary school that caters for the autism need in our community.

The steering group includes ex-head teachers of both mainstream and special schools, a chair of governors, current school leaders, an ex-SEN leader from KCC, ASD champions, SENCO's, a business manager, a marketing manager, an ASD school trainer and ASD specialist teachers all with a 'good' track record. Consequently, this means that all educationalists involved in the application worked for a school that in their last inspection from Ofsted was judged as 'good' or better. 

We plan to apply to the Department of Education in March 2017 for the new autism school to open its doors in September 2018 but require KCC's backing to do so. The schools vision will foster pupil’s skills in independent living, employability, healthy lives and their participation in society while gaining the necessary GCSE's to move into further education or employment.

 KCC are yet to give their support because there needs to be evidence of parental demand.   

It is the duty of KCC to ensure looked after children or children in care are given at least ‘good’ provisions. So I ask……. is it fair to make plans that send many of our vulnerable children with autism to satellite provisions whose schools require improvement or into independent schools that require significant travelling and associated costs?   

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT NOW to demonstration to KCC that children with autism deserve good localised school places too. Backing this new school for East Kent will bring about major changes and opportunities for children with autism, their parents and our community. 

To find out more about our proposal for a new autism secondary school visit

If you are a parent of a child with autism please sign our 'register your interest' form on our website. Thank you












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