A national charity is claiming that children with autism in Luton are “disproportionately at risk” from being excluded from school.
Ambitious About Autism is calling for “urgent action” after data from a Freedom of Information request submitted to the Department for Education revealed that exclusions of children with autism have increased by around 60 per cent across the East of England over the past five years.
The latest figures show 535 pupils with autism were excluded in one year – a 62 per cent increase since 2011/12 (when 330 pupils were excluded).
A charity spokesman said: “Areas with particularly high exclusion rates compared to the number of pupils with autism include Central Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Luton.
“Although there has been an increase in the number of children with autism in schools in the region, the exclusion rate remains disproportionate to their number.
“There are now over 10,600 pupils with autism in the East of England, compared with 6,800 in 2011/12 - an increase of 56per cent.”
Chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, Jolanta Lasota, said: “Not only do children fall behind academically, but the isolation from their peers creates deep unhappiness, social anxiety and mental health problems.”
Since 2011, the overall number of pupils excluded from school in the East of England has risen by 0.2 per cent.
The Luton Herald&Post hascontacted Luton Borough Council for a comment.