Many autistic children across Aberdeen are missing “significant and concerning” amounts of school, a group supporting kids with additional support needs has claimed.
Aberdeen City Council’s education committee heard some parents in the city have to carry a phone constantly as they get contacted to come and pick their kids up from school on occasions when they are distressed.
Dr Alison Murray, secretary of the Aberdeen-based Additional Support Needs Parent/Carer Support Group, said more specialist resources are needed to ensure autistic children in the city are not getting excluded.
She said: “Many autistic children are missing significant and concerning amounts of school.
“Some Aberdeen parents have mentioned about having to carry a phone constantly.
“They’ve been told to help them and come down because they’re not coping. It’s a sign of a lack of support, it’s not a sign they should be collected. If they need to be collected, it needs to be recorded as exclusion.
“Many are struggling in mainstream schools. A lot of children are doing very well but here are children who it’s not working for.”
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The committee met yesterday to discuss the impact of an inclusion review on children and young people in the city.
The review aims to offer a more universal education to all children, reducing the need to place children in placements out of their local authority area.
However, Dr Murray said there are “ever increasing” numbers of parents looking beyond schools run by the local authority.
She claimed eight families are currently looking at this, with many hoping to send their kids to Camphill School – an independent school in Bieldside offering support for children with additional support needs.
Eleanor Sheppard, transformation and improvement manager within the education and children’s service, told councillors the council’s policy is children are not “unlawfully excluded”.
She said: “If there are instances where schools are calling parents and unlawfully excluding, I would suggest parents get in touch.”
Councillors asked for a report be brought back into how inclusive schools in the city are for those with additional support needs.
Ms Sheppard agreed officers would work on establishing a remit and timescale for delivering the report.