The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed it is to extend its contract with the Autism Education Trust (AET), which delivers face-to-face training to professionals working in early years settings, schools and post-16 institutions to help them support children and pupils on the spectrum, by a further two years.
The AET, led by the National Austistic Society and Ambitious about Autism, was established and developed by the DfE in 2007. As well as providing training, it offers a framework to schools to respond to the needs of pupils with autism.
The training programmes for professionals working with children from birth to age 25, are delivered through contracted license partners trained and supported by the AET. So far, 185,000 education professionals have undertaken the training.
The DfE’s continued support will mean that the AET will be able to train more practitioners and teaching staff to respond to the needs of children and young people with autism. It will also enable the AET to continue to regularly update its training materials and resources so they are in line with the latest research.
The funding from the DfE is also being used towards the introduction of a new partnership approach to allow prospective training partners to join the AET’s delivery network. It is offering license agreements in local authority areas across early years settings, schools, colleges and universities. Partners would also get access to the AET’s support network.
Bob Lowndes, director of the AET, said, ‘More than one in 100 children globally are on the autism spectrum, including around 120,000 school-aged children in England, over 70 per cent of whom go to mainstream schools. This means that education professionals are bound to work with autistic students and therefore, improving the understanding of autism across the entire education sector is imperative.
‘Our vision is to see all autistic children and young people receive an education that enables them to fulfil their aspirations and engage in society as active citizens. To date, we have trained over 180,000 professionals; with the DfE’s support we aim to extend our reach to all local authority areas. At a time of critical funding challenges throughout the system, the DfE’s commitment highlights the importance of the work we are doing; its recognition is invaluable.’