Exploring good practice in the organisation and provision of secondary education for pupils with high functioning autism spectrum conditions

  • Lucy Reynolds

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Background: Research and professional experience suggest that young people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) often find secondary school more difficult than primary school. Expert advice suggests that Local Authorities should offer a 'continuum of provision' to meet the diverse needs associated with ASC, but the high number of tribunals within England relating to provision for young people with ASC suggests that pupils' needs are not always being catered for appropriately. This project aimed to explore the range of secondary provision available to young people with ASC within one local authority and the decision-making processes used by parents and professionals to determine which provision is most appropriate for which pupils.Participants: Four Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) and four parents of pupils with ASC were recruited from four different types of schools catering for secondary-aged pupils with ASC, along with two officers from the local authority involved with school placement decisions for children with ASC.Methods: This study used an embedded multiple case study design, with each school forming a case within the local authority system. Individual semi-structured interviews were carried out with each participant; these were audio-recorded and transcribed. Documents were gathered relating to school placement decisions and provision.Analysis/ Findings: Data were analysed using thematic analysis and content analysis. The findings were presented as thematic maps for each individual school followed by a local authority-wide cross-case synthesis. The findings relating to decision-making processes were analysed and presented separately.Conclusion/ Implications: The study extends understanding about the range of educational provision for secondary-aged students with ASC and how placement decisions are made within one local authority. Suggestions are made for further research.
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCaroline Bond (Supervisor) & Kevin Woods (Supervisor)


  • school
  • secondary
  • autism

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