An investigation into variation in autistic students' attainment across England and Wales by Local Education Authority (LEA).

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology


I plan to investigate variation in autistic students' attainment across England and Wales by Local Education Authority (LEA). This research will facilitate an understanding of which LEAs are implementing the best practice for autistic students to access education and fulfil their potential to the same level as their allistic (non-autistic) peers. I will be able to provide a summary of my findings to LEAs - this research has the potential to impact future policy implementation.

While out this research at The University of Exeter, I plan to work alongside other academics who are conducting research in a similar area, I am also hoping to forge links with local Autism charities over the coming year, so that I can engage with them during my research.

LEAs provide services for schools, assist in implementing government initiatives and legislation in schools, allocate finance to schools and are responsible for identifying and meeting the needs of pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). By researching how different LEAs across the country deal with autism and what adjustments and funding are allocated for SEND students, against educational outcomes for autistic students from these LEAs, I will be able to identify which are providing best practice. It will be possible for this research to track students' progress across the transition through the school system and it will also be of interest to see if pupils' attainment changes between school types against what support and provision is provided for SEND pupils at each level of education.

I plan to conduct quantitative secondary data analysis, using the National Pupil Database (NPD). I will need to seek permission to access this data, however, as this research project seeks to promote the educational well-being of autistic pupils it should be the case that I will be granted access. By using the NPD I eliminate the need for sampling as I will be able to work with data from the whole population, this means my results will be representative of the population and there will be no limitations from sample bias. The NPD will also allow me to look at outcomes over time, in this way I may be able to identify particular changes in policy which have impacted students outcomes.

England has 174 LEAs. I will need to collect data about LEAs policies and spending for SEND pupils, information available on LEAs/local government websites, or via freedom of information requests. Some types of school, such as free schools and private schools do not fall under LEAs and so I will have to use their websites or contact them individually to collect policy and funding information.

Using the NPD means I do not need to have contact with any pupils to conduct this research, nor will I need to access any NHS records for individuals to see if they have an autism diagnosis, this information will be contained within the anonymised dataset.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2097058 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022 Kayleigh Ann Powell