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Surge in school absenteeism for autistic children

Updated: May 14

In depressing and unsurprising news there has been a 166% increase in the number of autistic children persistently absent from school 🏫

In 2022, The Relationships Foundation and 20/20 Health review: Flexi-schooling children with special educational needs and disabilities in the UK presented a compelling case that flexischooling could be ‘game changing’ for neurodivergent children and young people.

💡 'Only 25% of autistic children claim to feel happy or included at school'

💡 Parents of flexi-schooled autistic children felt 'the sharing of education between home and school, facilitated the child's access to school, through providing support for the child to prepare for and respond to stresses.'

💡 'Many parents report opting for home education only out of desperation; some would have preferred flexi-schooling but found the school unwilling to accommodate the arrangement.'

💡 'In light of the diverse social and sensory challenges autistic children face in the school environment, it is little wonder that parents may see flexi-schooling as an opportunity for their child’s refuge and refreshment.'

💡 'Head-teachers need to consider whether granting a flexi-schooling arrangement for a child with known or suspected SEND may enable a less stressful and more manageable routine, better educational and behavioural outcomes, and — perhaps counter-intuitively — stronger inclusion. In some cases, the intervention may in turn create a more positive learning environment for the child’s peers.'

💡 'It is our hope that this report catalyses immediate action so more families have access to flexi-schooling arrangements from the moment their children need them. If as a society we are serious about lifelong education and equity, we need to ensure we enable all children to enjoy their school years.'


It is the view of Finding the Flex that:

💫 every school in the country could be proactively and positively offering access to flexischooling arrangements for these children, long before things become so intolerable for them they are forced out of education entirely.

💫 every school in the country could be backed up by Trusts and LAs with robust flexischooling policies.

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