Posted in leadership, learning, SEND

Overcoming the barriers to inclusion for pupils on the autism spectrum – Part 2

This blog post is the concluding part of our fantastic series produced by Andrew Cuttings of the National Autistic Society (NAS). It follows the first instalment available to read here

Make reasonable Adjustments policies and practices

Schools have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to take positive steps to ensure that disabled pupils, including those on the autism spectrum, can fully participate in the education provided by the school, and that they can enjoy the other benefits, facilities and services that the school provides for pupils, such as after school clubs and school trips.

“4.11 If a disabled pupil is excluded for behaviour connected to his or her disability, this could be discrimination arising from disability unless the school can justify the exclusion as being a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. An exclusion is unlikely to be justified in circumstances in which the school has not complied with its duty to make reasonable adjustments for that pupil.”

Suggestions of practical strategies that schools can use to support pupils on the autism spectrum, to allow them to access all aspects of school life, can be found in two documents: ‘Breaking Down Barriers to Learning’ and ‘NAS Disability Accessibility Planning’, both of which are available in the ‘School Exclusions Group’ on Network Autism.

A school’s behaviour policy should make allowance for behaviour which is a consequence of a pupil’s disability, rather than disobedience. A one size fits all policy, fixing a standard penalty for a particular action, is therefore both unfair and inappropriate.

“3.4 Most discrimination in schools is unintentional and may come about because of rigid policies or practices. Reviewing all practices and policies will help a school to ensure that it does not discriminate……”

Provide autism awareness training for all staff

The NAS provided evidence to the House of Commons Education Committee on Behaviour and discipline in schools.  This included the following statement:

“31. Many children with autism face exclusion from school on either a temporary or permanent basis. It is the experience of the NAS that for many children with autism, exclusion represents a failure on the part of their educational setting to provide appropriate support and training to effectively manage their behaviour.”

All school staff need autism training to be able to work effectively with pupils with autism and to be alert to the warning signs or triggers that, if left unheeded, can lead to potentially explosive situations.

To ensure consistency of approach, training should involve all staff, including support staff and lunchtime supervisors, who play a crucial role in overseeing unstructured parts of the school day, which pupils on the autism spectrum can find it difficult to navigate.


If you or your school staff are looking for autism training you might be interested in the National Autistic Society’s new online training, Ask Autism. Each module only takes 60-90 minutes to complete from the comfort of your own computer. Ask autism online training will help frontline professionals develop a better understanding of autism and gain confidence in interacting with people on the autism spectrum.

Uniquely developed and delivered by people on the autism spectrum, the modules provide an ‘insider’s’ perspective of autism to give you a unique understanding of how people on the autism spectrum would like to be understood and supported.

Choose from five interactive modules:

  • Understanding autism
  • Autism and communication
  • Autism and sensory experience
  • Autism, stress and anxiety
  • Autism: supporting families

Suitable for anyone who has contact with people on the autism spectrum as part of their daily activities, for more information visit:

The School Exclusions Group on Network Autism

To share good practice and find the information you need to support children and young people on the autism spectrum, who are at risk of exclusion, you may like to join the “Schools Exclusions Group” on Network Autism. Register for free at:

What is Network Autism?

Network Autism is an online platform where professionals share new ideas and discuss good practice.  It allows you to forge new links with other professionals in a supportive online community. If you’ve found solutions that work, share them.  If you need answers, ask the community.

Find part one here.



I'm an ex-teacher with a real passion for education, politics and teaching. I am also a keen writer and blogger with strong opinions.

2 thoughts on “Overcoming the barriers to inclusion for pupils on the autism spectrum – Part 2

  1. This has opened our eyes on the weaknesses in our current education system. Since we’re facing an education reform, now is as good time as any to apply policies and adjustments to benefit children with ASD.

    1. You are absolutely right. Schools often struggle to put all these reforms into practice. That is why HCSS Hub is developing a fantastic new SEND section for TheSchoolBus, which we hope will enable schools to overcome the challenges and implement the policies that will ensure that all children with SEND can finally access a proper education.

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