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The NASUWT has been working to highlight the increasing pressure teachers are being placed under by the failure to provide adequate support and provision for pupils with neurodivergence.

A recent survey of members by the Union found there has been a significant increase in the number of pupils identified as being neurodiverse over the last five years. Neurodivergence is an umbrella term to refer to a number of conditions including autism, ADHD and dyslexia, among others.

However, the increase in the number of pupils identified as being neurodiverse is not being matched with adequate staffing, training or access to external specialist support, members have told us.

Our survey found that:

  • Only 6% said the neurodiverse pupils they teach always receive the support to which they are entitled. Four in ten said their pupils rarely or never get the support they need.
  • Long waiting lists for support, difficulties obtaining assessments of needs and a lack of appropriate training for school staff were cited as the most common barriers to pupils getting adequate support.
  • Four in ten said the support they receive to teach neurodivergent pupils has decreased in the last five years.
  • The pandemic has had a significantly negative impact on the attainment and wellbeing of neurodiverse pupils.
  • Levels of specialist teachers and support staff are inadequate in around two-thirds of schools.
  • Nearly half have not received any specific training on teaching neurodivergent pupils in the last two years.

The problems extend to those teachers who are themselves neurodivergent, with over half of those surveyed saying they did not feel they receive the support they require to do their jobs effectively and a quarter saying the culture in their school or college was not inclusive of staff with neurodiversity.

The Union is using the findings to call for greater recognition, investment and funding in services for children, young people and adults with neurodivergence, as well as making better training on neurodiversity a continuous part of teacher training from ITT onwards. The NASUWT runs neurodiversity awareness training courses for members, but believes there should be career-long, profession-wide access to high quality training and CPD.

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