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Developing the AET Post 16 programme including the integration within it of the Succeeding at College programme

AET Project brief - Developing the AET Post 16 programme including the integration within it of the Succeeding at College programme - Closing date for applications February 24th. Shortlisted organisations will be interviewed on the 3rd March 2016 in London.  

The Autism Education Trust was awarded contracts by the Department for Education (DfE) for the development and delivery of an integrated programme of training and materials over the period 2011/16.

An extension to the current contract until April 2017 will build on the success of the AET’s three previous programmes.
This document sets down the brief for an integrated and extended AET Post 16 training programme which further disseminates the AET post 16 professional development programme and also integrates it with the Succeeding at College project developed by Ambitious About Autism.

There are two overarching objectives of this programme strand:
1.    To build the momentum of the AET post 16 programme by further dissemination and guidance.
2.    To link the above offer with the dissemination of the Succeeding at College programme.


The Autism Education Trust (AET) was founded in 2007 by Ambitious about Autism (formally Tree House), The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) and The National Autistic Society (NAS) and has received consistent support from both governments since that time.

The  vision of the AET is that all children and young people with autism should receive an education which enables them to engage in society as active citizens and that their families and the professionals who work with them are informed, supported and equipped to enable this to be achieved.

In order to achieve this, the AET has a mission to improve the education of young people with autism.

The AET achieves its mission through:

•    the identification and promotion of high standards in autism education practice
•    the identification and promotion of effective practitioner competency in support of those standards
•    providing a platform for training in effective practice in support of improved competency
•    disseminating information regarding evidence-based and good practice approaches/services to policy makers,  commissioners and practitioners
•    providing  an interface between users, practitioners and policy makers in respect of service development
•    ensuring that full and proper engagement of stakeholders informs its work and facilitating the engagement  of stakeholders with government

The AET is in a unique position to carry out these activities because of:
•    Its independence
•    The partnership it supports between voluntary bodies and voluntary bodies and the maintained sector
•    The active role of people with autism in the work and governance of the AET.
•    Its national brief
•    Its  focus on practical activity in education contexts

The AET DfE programmes from 2011-16

In the summer of 2011 the DfE awarded the AET funding to deliver an ambitious 2 year programme to raise workforce competency through:
•    Delivering autism training for school staff  at level 1 (general awareness), level 2 (for staff working with young people with autism on a daily basis) and level 3 (for specialists such as SENCOs)
•    Integrating this training with national standards for schools for autism education.
•    Developing a competency framework to guide professional development

Birmingham University were commissioned to develop the training materials and the standards and 7 regional hubs were commissioned to deliver the training. The programme was rolled out successfully. By the end of the programme in March 2013: 
•    Over 10,500 school staff had been trained at level 1, over 850 at level 2 and nearly 200 at level 3.
•    The AET Standards were published in May 2012 and there was strong interest and positive feedback from schools from the outset. There is now evidence of the standards being used in schools and strategically in some LAs on a whole LA basis.
•    An AET Competency Framework was published in September 2012 which provides a structure for professional development. We are now receiving regular feedback from schools that this supporting staff CPD in this area of expertise.

A final evaluation (2013) from University of Warwick CEDAR unit found:

For level 1

• Very positive feedback  with robust evidence of staff moving on to level 2 as a result of undertaking level 1 training.

• Level 1 AET training materials have been successful in raising the knowledge, awareness and understanding of the majority of the participants, including those with previous experience of working with pupils on the autism spectrum.

• There was a highly significant rise in pre- and post-training mean total score on the Knowledge Quiz (p < .001).

For level 2 and 3

• Over 8 out of 10 thought the training was ‘worthwhile’. • Very positive feedback with over 84% indicating the training was worthwhile and had increased their knowledge

• 93% of level 2 delegates and 97% of level 3 delegates  were interested in further training

The DfE awarded the AET a contract for a new 2013-15 programme that built on this success. It extended it by:
•    Developing new Early Years and Post 16 Training materials and associated Autism Standards and Competency Framework
•    Commissioning 4 Early Years and 4 Post 16 Training hubs to deliver the programme
•    Developing the AET Standards for use by parents in selecting schools and having a constructive dialogue with staff ion their child’s school.
•    Developing a toolkit for LAs and other organisations who are using the AET training, Standards and Competency Frameworks

Subsequently the DfE extended its contract with the AET to support the 2015/16 programme. This extended the reach of the Early Years and Post 16 Programmes to a further three English Regions. It also revised the schools materials and developed a number of new materials and training modules including a new progression framework and modules focussing on complex needs and participation. By the end of 2015 the programmes had trained well over 80,000 staff in all three age phases.

The diagram below sets out the broad structure of all the programmes from 2011-17.

The Post 16 Programme

The Post 16 training materials were developed from the existing Schools training materials by a team of post 16/autism specialists and practitioners. The team also included people with autism and parents of children with autism. The team also produced Post 16 version of the AET Standards and Competency Framework.
The training materials keep the structure of the schools materials but have major adaptations for the post 16 sector. There are three tiers of training offered:  
1.    Raising awareness
Basic autism awareness training for everyone involved in a post 16 provision who would benefit from an understanding of autism. This includes teaching and support staff, office staff, caterers, caretakers, transport staff, governors, employers and careers advisers.
2.    For practitioners
Practical approaches to developing teaching, learning and support strategies for all staff working directly with young people with autism (including tutors, learning support practitioners, assessors, trainers and job coaches).
3.    For managers
For all staff who may take a leadership role that includes responsibility for developing provision for young people with autism within a post 16 provision (including lead practitioners for autism; inclusion and/or curriculum managers and those who manage additional learning support).
From the summer of 2013 four training hubs were commissioned to deliver the training in the South East, London, West Midlands and East Midlands. The AET’s objective is to offer training across the whole of England and the commission of a further 3 training hubs is an important step towards this.

Succeeding at College and Finished at School

Over the past three years Ambitious About Autism have worked with colleges in each of the nine regions in England to develop more effective school to college transition for young people with autism and to support the development of better provision for young people with autism, including those with complex autism.

Learning from the Finished at School project 2013-15 shows:

- The importance of college-led cross agency local transition partnerships for effective planning leads to better transition to college for young people with autism. The evaluation also found that: “The opportunity, created by the programme, to focus on improving transition for young people with autism… also generalised to improve transition for young people with other special educational needs” (p101).

- A positive impact in relation to the five key areas of project work: Development of staff skills; improved person-centred planning; Strengthened assessment processes; Development of new curriculum pathways; improved access to college life.

- In all four colleges, support for learners with autism was written into key strategic plans.

Feedback to date from the 2015/16 Succeeding at College post-course evaluation data across England shows that:

- the opportunity to meet and work in local transition partnerships is particularly valued by college, school and local authority staff

- the opportunity through the use of the Finished at School self-audit tool to self-evaluate transition to college processes, college provision and set an action plan to take this work forward is seen as a particularly useful way working by people attending the training

- awareness of the specific duties of FE colleges in the CHFA and code of practice as they relate to transition and the work of Preparing for Adulthood is patchy

What are the key deliverables?
There will be 5 key deliverables:

i)  The production of a manual on the use of the AET approach for colleges based on the AET guide already published for LAs and schools and developed and expanded to  integrate  the existing Succeeding at College Guidance

ii) A special 1 day session in each of 9 hub regions providing;
•    Free tier 1 training (to be delivered by AET post 16 training hubs and funded separately)
•    Dissemination of Succeeding at College training
•    Information about AET Tier 2 and 3 and Succeeding at College training and guidance
These sessions to have input from both hubs and Post 16 project staff with a view to hubs running the whole package on a self-sustaining basis post March 2017

iii) Development and delivery of post 16 conference in London for focussed on 200 college based leaders and staff disseminating AET training and post 16 materials and linked Succeeding at College offer targeting transition issues

iv)  Development of training packages for regional and national events and revision of AET post 16 training packages to integrate Succeeding at College links.

v) Integration, coordination and dissemination of post 16 programme including marketing initiative including advertising, links from other phase website and regular social media updates highlighting AET post 16 offer and bought in Succeeding at College Offer. This will also include developing broader partnerships with the sector that will participate in regional hubs.

What key skills / capabilities are important to us?

• Extensive experience in working with people across the spectrum, whether they have High Functioning Autism / Asperger Syndrome or have classical autism with or without other learning difficulties.

• Extensive experience of working in or with post 16 provisions.

• A track record of delivering high quality training with independent evaluation of its effectiveness.

• Extensive understanding (and ideally experience of delivery) of the AET post 16 training and associated materials.

• A fluent understanding of the Succeeding at College programme and ideally experience of delivering it.

When do we need it?

The delivery timetable is set out below:

 Activity  By when
 Post 16 development team appointed
 March 2016
 Detailed post 16 project plan finalised including marketing and dissemination strategy  May  2016
 Production of a manual on the use of the AET approach for colleges integrating  the existing Succeeding at College Guidance  September 2016
 Development of training packages for regional and national events  October 2016
 Arranging and delivery of regional and national events  November 2016-March 2017


The total funding for this brief is £131.5k spread over three terms from April 1st 2016 to March 31st 2017. This is inclusive of any VAT and covers all the funding available. It includes all funding for the purchase of the training materials for the trainers and delegates .Indicative funding for each element of the project are set out in the table below:

Project element  Funding
 Development and production of online manual  £15k
 All costs (apart from hub trainers) for delivery of 9 regional events  £49.5k
 All costs for national conference  £20k
 Development of regional and national training packages  £21k
 Coordination, integration, development and dissemination/marketing of the project  £26k
 Total  £131.5k

Further information

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should submit the proforma by February 24th.  Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on March 3rd 2016 in London.

These opportunities are subject to a contract extension with the Department for Education. Discussions are currently taking place on this and we are hopeful that they will be successfully concluded. We hope and expect  to confirm this by the time that we shortlist. 

For an overview of the AET please see the AET website at

For individual queries please email our Administrator, Joanne Driver at . We will either respond to your query by email or arrange a phone call if necessary.

Relevant Documents

Post 16 programme application proforma 2016