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AET Project brief - Capacity building post March 2013

AET Project brief - Capacity building

The Autism Education Trust believes that all children and young people with autism* should receive an education which enables them to reach their individual potential to engage in society as active citizens (and that individuals, families and professionals are informed, supported and equipped to enable this to be achieved).
*The term autism refers to all those on the autistic spectrum including Asperger syndrome

The purpose of the AET is to further raise awareness of the importance of autism education across the children’s workforce, to bring organisations involved in delivering autism education services together in order to promote effective practice and share information and to involve children and young people with autism and their families and carers in the planning and delivery of information and resources to enhance and improve autism education across the country.

To develop the capacity of the AET to become self sustainable after the completion of the current DfE sponsored Theme 3 programme in March 2013.

The Autism Education Trust (AET) is funded by the Department of Education (DfE) and was founded in 2007 by Ambitious about Autism (formally TreeHouse), The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) and The National Autistic Society (NAS).

The AET is a partnership of organisations with a specific focus on autism and education and works to improve education provision for children and young people with autism. It is hosted on behalf of the partnership by the NAS.

The AET has been successful in bidding for a capacity building grant from the DfE. The bid was informed by an independent review which identified a number of areas which could be developed to ensure the sustainability of the AET and its programme when the grant funded Theme 3 programme is completed in March 2013. As a result of this successful bid we are letting two contracts to carry out this work:

1. Building the capacity of the AET for post March 2013
2. To secure accreditation for the AET training programme from a national provider

This brief relates to the first of these two. Please see AET Accreditation brief for the other.

What is included in the brief?
1. Source and match a business mentor to act as a critical friend and support the AET Director establish and maintain relationships with stakeholders on an ongoing basis and to source new business opportunities and funding.

2. Market research and analysis of the competition framework and structure; and trading position to promote and sell the AET Training Materials at Levels 2 and 3. This will include:
• Who to sell to/who will pay 
• At what price
• The impact of differential pricing structures per hub
• Who is the market to target (including an estimate of numbers)
• How do we market this including the use of existing AET training hubs and other networks
• How do we develop the product including drawing on existing AET products
• how do we add value to what's out there
3. Development of an interim sales force to drive the process and establish the marketing and sales on a commercial level. This sales force would ideally have expertise in the area of autism and credibility with professionals in the field.

4. Development of existing business planning activities and production of a business plan including a marketing plan for the AET. This will focus on the wider business opportunities, products to be developed and sold and market research for opportunities to further those of the commercial products and sales for AET. It will take account of and link closely with the ongoing evaluation of the AET programme by Warwick University. It will also link closely to the parallel capacity building work accrediting qualification within an AET competency framework.

What are the key deliverables / milestones of the AET programme?
The project has the following key deliverables:

1. To ensure that the  Director will be able to focus on what needs to be done to build and maintain wider stakeholder relationships for the benefit of AET

2. A fully informed market analysis report with full pricing, costs, target audience, marketing strategy, action plan with timescales and projected income budget will provide clear direction for the promotion and sales of the Level 2 and 3 AET training materials, and marketing avenues for sale.

3. A Schools/Settings Evaluation Framework will be developed to lead to the development of an AET mark of approval which schools and settings can opt to buy into. This Framework would be directly linked to the AET National Standards in Education and the AET Training Materials at Levels 1, 2 and 3.

4. A sales force with expertise in autism that will  start the sales process of existing AET products such as the Tools for Teachers, 100% Awesomes peer awareness pack and  Diagnosis DVD.

5. A business and marketing plan for AET clearly outlining :

  a. Current and future possible markets for the AET
  b. Target client base
  c. Competitor analysis 
  d. Marketing strategy
  e. Marketing plan
  f. Business risks
  g. Sales targets and objectives
  h. Operational requirements and evaluation of the programme
  i. Financial requirements and forecasts

What key skills / capabilities are important to us?
This is a complex and multifaceted brief. We are looking for:

• A track record in and knowledge of SEN area, charities sector and the wider policy framework
• A track record of assignments being completed on time and to budget
• An understanding of the  voluntary  sector organisations and work for government departments, ideally within education
• An understanding of  organisational issues in moving from fully-funded status to sustainability through trading
• An understanding of working in a multiple stakeholder environment with organisations similar to the AET.
• A track record of establishing effective  communication in a fluid organisational context

The timetable for development
A suggested broad timetable is set out below although it is expected that this would be reviewed with the successful contractor during the selection process.

Capacity building brief timetable image

The overall maximum budget for this piece of work is £74,100 including VAT and expenses. Contractors would be allowed some flexibility and a broad delivery programme would be discussed and agreed on appointment.  Informed by the independent review our starting point for the breakdown of the work would be approximately as follows:

Business mentor: Assume maximum of 22 days @ max day rate of £550 =£12,100
Market research and analysis: 15 days at £550 per diem= £8,250
Business plan development: 25 days @ £550 per diem= £13,750 
Development of an interim sales force: Six months interim role estimated 2 x £20000= £40,000

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should complete the brief tender proforma which is supplied with this document which details how they would address this remit and what particular skills and expertise they bring. Bidders should be prepared to present their bid if requested. This document and the presentation will be assessed by a panel delegated by the AET Programme Board who will select the successful bidder at the bid selection meeting on 10th February.

For an overview of the AET, please download the AET Presentation.

Please also see the rest of the AET website at

Relevant Documents
1. AET Presentation
2. AET Project Brief: Accreditation Project
3. AET Project Brief: Competency Framework
4. AET Project Brief: National Standards
5. AET Project brief: Project Evaluation