The National Autistic Society

Advocacy for Education Services

The NAS Advocacy for Education Services supports parents and carers to receive the most appropriate education support and needs for the child. From the estimated 500,000 people across England and Wales who have an autism spectrum disorders (ASD) 130,000 are aged between 0-19 (school age). One of the largest difficulties parents with a child with an ASD face is gaining access to an appropriate school, and therefore education, for their child’s needs. Many children with autism need an autism-specific education if they are to fulfill their potential and make the most of their abilities. However parents need to obtain a certificate of Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) before they can access the type of specialist education best suited to their child’s needs

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It ran from to

Registered Charity in England and Wales (269425)




  • Community Support & DevelopmentCommunity Support & Development
  • Education/Training/EmploymentEducation/Training/Employment
  • Health/WellbeingHealth/Wellbeing


  • Children (3-18)Children (3-18)
  • Young People (18-30)Young People (18-30)



<b>The Issues</b> For many parents the process of obtaining a Statement of Special Educational Needs is difficult, daunting and complex and in the majority of cases parents find that they are often denied a certificate. Many local authorities either dispute parental claims that their child has special educational needs, or else simply fail to provide the requisite support and care following a Statement. Parents therefore find themselves in the position of having to fight for suitable provision for their child, often having to go to tribunal. Appeals to the SEN and Disability Tribunal related to autism have increased by 43% over the past two years. There are very few organisations that have the capacity to help parents and provide them with the information they need. <b>What we have done about it</b> Since 2000 our Advocacy for Education Service, a telephone advice service, which provides help, advice and information to parents seeking a SEN certificate, has helped over 12,000 families in England and Wales. This is made up of two strands: The Education Advice Line and the Tribunal Support Scheme. <b>"It is an excellent service. I suddenly felt connected to somebody who genuinely shared my frustration, and who wanted to, and did, help in a very practical way." (a parent)</b> <b>The Education Advice Line</b> is a free, telephone-based advice line. Led by volunteers, it provides parents and carers with information on special educational needs, ensuring they understand their child's rights and entitlements. <b>The Tribunal Support Scheme</b> operates in conjunction with our Education Advice line and provides free telephone advice and information for parents who wish to challenge the decision made by their local authority about their child's educational needs and provision, at tribunal. A group of volunteer case workers help parents to lodge their appeal and prepare their case. As some families are unable to represent themselves, the NAS has formed an alliance with law firms <b>Clifford Chance</b> and <b>Addleshaw Goddard</b> who provide free legal representation, where appropriate. In 2008/09 the Advocacy for Education Service received over 2000 calls. We successfully helped <b>443 children with autism</b> find their most suitable school place. We rely entirely on voluntary donations to fund the £155,000 year cost of the Advocacy for Education Service, that equated to, <b>£350 per child</b> helped in 2008/2009. We need further donations to ensure that this invaluable work continues.