Free autism training to roll out in January 2014

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Free face-to-face training in autism will soon be available to early years practitioners and post-16 educational professionals through a network of hub organisations, appointed as part of the latest phase of the Autism Education Trust’s training programme.


The AET Training Programme is the largest ever programme for nurseries and schools in England and aims to provide practical advice and greater knowledge of autism.

The latest phase builds on the success of the schools hubs which were launched in 2011. Since then 11 hubs for schools have been established and over 14,000 individuals have received training.

The next phase of the training which incorporates early years will be delivered from January 2014, and funded by £1.5m from the DfE for a period of two years.

Dr Steve Huggett, director of AET, said, ‘There are three levels of training. The Level 1 is a day and a half course which is free and covers basic awareness and is targeted at a wide range of professionals who may come into contact with autism. There is very strong focus on the practical.

‘Level 2 takes place over two days, is more in-depth and covers strategies for those childcarers who are working with individual children on a daily basis. Level 3 approaches autism from an institutional angle, looking at how leaders, managers and SENCOs can expand their capacity for children with autism and establish standards for good provision.

‘Delivering the Level 1 training to practitioners in their own settings is seen as being very beneficial, while Level 2 and 3 can be delivered in local centres. Overall it will be a balance.’

So far four training hubs appointed to deliver the training:

  • North Yorkshire County Council
  • Birmingham City Council
  • National Autistic Society with Thomas Bewick School
  • Leicestershire County Council

These organisations have experts in the field of autism who not only deliver practical training but also provide a wider focus. For example, Birmingham City Council will utilise experts from Birmingham University, which is a leading authority in the field.

‘The organisations which have been chosen to deliver the early years training have not only been picked on their basis of their expertise but also on their familiarity with the sector,’ said Dr Huggett. ‘We wanted those who already have established networks of providers and who can hit the ground running.’

He added, ‘Our experience with the schools hubs is that those with networks can effectively generate training take-up.  These have been funded for four school terms to provide the Level 1 course, and then they are licensed to provide the subsequent paid for courses. In this way the programme becomes self-sustaining and we hope this will prove to be the case for early years. We also hope to appoint more hubs in the future to fill in the regional gaps.’

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