COUNCIL officials have been unable to put together a database of the number of Oxfordshire pupils on the autism spectrum who have been excluded from school.

They have been unable to get figures from Oxfordshire’s academies, which are independent of council control.

Oxfordshire County Council was hoping to put together the database so that it could work to reduce the number in future years.

But Alison Wallis, the county council’s performance and information manager, said: “It has been quite difficult to find a definitive list of children on the autistic spectrum.

“We were going to get it from the school census, but the Department for Education has said local authorities no longer have access to this.”

The issue has arisen because academies and free schools are independent of council control, meaning local authorities have less powers in relation to them.

Jim Leivers, the director of children’s services at the county council, said: “Government policy is that local authorities have an increasingly limited role in relation to the wider education agenda.”

The issue was discussed at yesterday’s meeting of the children and young people’s partnership board.

County councillor Hilary Hibbert-Biles, the cabinet member for public health, told the meeting that information held by school nurses could be used to retrieve the data.

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