A project aimed at improving support for autistic students in mainstream education has been so successful that it will be extended to more schools in Sheffield.
During its first year, the project ran at ten mainstream secondary schools in the city. It aimed to improve the school environment, relationships between staff, parents and students, and access to early intervention. Health professionals, parents and young people worked together to develop a training programme for school staff.
A key part of the project were the parents’ and young people’s groups that ran at the participating schools. National charity KIDS set up the young people’s groups, and our forum’s project workers ran monthly parents’ meetings. These were open to parents of children with any type of special educational need or disability – not just autism.
Parents reported that the groups helped to improve their communication with school staff. Some parents found it easier to raise issues through the SPCF project workers rather than talk directly to the school; others said they had learnt about resources and adaptations like toilet passes they didn’t know they could ask for.
The project will continue to work with the original schools to embed the work that has already taken place. New schools are being recruited at the moment, and a list will be published on this website later in the autumn.