Charity claims autistic pupils are illegally excluded

Its survey of 500 families revealed that four in 10 children had been requested informally to stay at home temporarily, which is illegal. Some were made to miss school trips or attend lessons part-time.

20 per cent of the parents surveyed said that their child had been formally excluded.

Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, said: "It is shocking so many children with autism are missing out on education. All schools are legally bound to provide quality full-time education to all pupils, including children with autism.

"Asking parents to collect their children early or putting them on part-time hours is against the law and fails to address the underlying need for schools to make reasonable adjustments to include children with autism."

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "All councils must ensure children are educated in a placement which meets their needs and we have been clear that schools have a duty to follow our strict rules when excluding pupils.

"We are spending over £3.5m on SEN co-ordinators in schools to provide targeted support to children with SEN, and have given the National Autistic Society £440,000 to provide advice to parents and teachers about how to support autistic children at school."