North Wales MS and Chair of the Cross Party Group on Autism in the Welsh Parliament, Mark Isherwood, has today called on the Welsh Government to respond to calls for an urgent Public Inquiry to stop the abuse against Autistic pupils in education settings.
Questioning the Education Minister in yesterday’s meeting of the Welsh Parliament over the action the Welsh Government is taking to prevent discrimination against Autistic pupils in education settings, Mr Isherwood highlighting a number of cases of this happening in North Wales.
He was told by the Minister that “Discrimination of any kind has no place in Wales” and that “Under the Equality Act 2010, schools and other education providers must not treat disabled pupils less favourably”.
However, having been contacted by numerous parents of Autistic children, Mr Isherwood stressed to the Minister that this is not the case.
“Despite the High Court ruling in 2018 that the exclusion of an Autistic pupil for behaviour arising from their Autism was unlawful, I continue to receive North Wales casework where this is happening.
“On related issues, a Flintshire parent wrote this month: ‘We now have a highly skilled psychiatrist and psychologist in the Autism field, who have reported my son’s behaviour is a result of bad experiences in his previous school and his difficulties in communicating these, not related to any parental concern'.
“A Wrexham parent wrote: ‘We decided to go to Education Tribunal. The decision of the Tribunal was that my daughter was unlawfully discriminated against on three separate occasions: indirect discrimination, discrimination due to disability, and harassment'.
“And a mother wrote to me as Chair of the Cross-Party Autism Group: 'I would like to make you aware that the Education Tribunal upheld against Neath College with discrimination against my Autistic Son, with damning outcomes'.
“These and many other cases evidence that this is not a safe, Autistic-friendly Wales. How do you therefore respond to the calls that I've received for an urgent Public Inquiry to stop the abuse that is still going on?”
The Minister replied:
“The Member makes reference to a number of examples that I'm not personally aware of, but the way he describes them are distressing and unacceptable, obviously. I'm actually meeting the president of the education tribunal in the coming weeks and will take that opportunity of discussing with her the point that the Member has made today. As I said in opening response to the Member, it is imperative that we make sure that we have an education system that is inclusive of all young people, and that is certainly the aim of this Government.”