Almost 50 percent of autistic children expelled from schools in England, have been wrongly removed, new figures reported by Schools Improvement show.

The misconduct occurs when pupils are sent home early, barred from attending school trips or assessments or put on a reduced timetable and school’s fail to provide the correct paperwork in support of the action.

Around 20,000 autistic children have been affected by the wrongful exclusions, as teachers struggle to cope with their behaviour. The study was conducted by charity, Ambitious About Autism, which is dedicated to improving educational opportunities for autistic children. They surveyed 745 families across the UK.

The study found that on top of the impact of missed school time on the child’s education, the exclusions going unreported makes it harder for parent’s to challenge the school’s decisions.

Children with autism are four times more likely to be permanent excluded from school than any other child, whilst 45 percent of surveyed children were formally dismissed at some point.

A large majority of children with autism in the UK attend mainstream schools, academies and special schools. Government guidelines state that any pupil can only legally be excluded for a  specific number of days or permanently, and any such action must be formally recorded. Actions such as sending pupils home to ‘cool off’ without record is deemed against the law.

Autism is a complex condition, and its symptoms and severity are understood against a spectrum. Some affected children find it harder to interact socially, may suffer sensory processing disorder or suffer with anxiety.

Speaking to The Times, Elizabeth Archer of Ambitious About Autism said;

“If our sample is reflective then around 20,000 children in England are being illegally deprived of some parts of their education this year.

‘Official exclusions are supposed to trigger the school and local authority to look again at whether needs are being met. We believe that if children with autism had their needs met in school these exclusions would be nowhere near this level.”