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AET Project brief - AET early years training hubs 2016/17

AET Project brief - early years training hubs - Closing date for applications January 27th. Shortlisted organisations will be interviewed on the 2nd or 3rd February 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. 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.


This document sets down the brief for an AET Early Years training hub in one of 2 English regions not covered currently by the AET Early Years Programme. The regions - based on the areas demarcated by the old Government Regional Offices- are: East and North West. Applications are welcome from organisations from those regions or from national organisations with a regional presence.

Purpose
To act as a training hub to facilitate the delivery a 3-tier programme of training programme for early years staff in a region of England as part of the Autism Education Trust’s DfE supported 2016/17 programme.

Background
The Autism Education Trust

The Autism Education Trust (AET) is  funded and supported by the Department for Education (DfE) following successive bids supported by a partnership of   Ambitious about Autism, the Autism Alliance and the National Autistic Society (NAS). The AET is hosted on behalf of the partnership by the NAS.

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 if 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).
• Over 8 out of 10 thought the training was ‘worthwhile’.

For level 2 and 3
• 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.


AET programme image

The early years programme

The Early Years training materials were developed from the existing Schools training materials by a team of early years/autism specialists and practitioners. The team also included people with autism and parents of children with autism. The team also produced an Early Years AET version of the Standards and Competency Framework.
The training materials keep the structure of the schools materials but have major adaptations for the Early Years sector. There are three tiers of training offered:  
1. Making sense of autism
For raising awareness of staff in all early years settings, whether or not they work directly with children with autism.
2. Good autism practice
For all staff who work regularly with children with autism.
3. Leading good autism practice
For all staff who need further knowledge on autism and/or who may train or lead other staff in their setting

Currently AET training hubs deliver the Early Years Programme across every region except the North West and the East. The AET’s objective is to offer Early Years training across the whole of England by appointing two hubs to cover those regions.

Training and induction and support of the new hubs

The new hubs induction will comprise:
•    A complete set of training materials with written guidance on their use
•    A workshop on the delivery  of the materials provided by AET
•    Attendance  at least one tier 1, 2 and 3 course run by an existing AET Early Years Training Hub

Additionally there will be termly Programme Partners meetings where the Early Years hub can feedback on their experiences of the training and network with other hubs and other colleagues involved in the programme.
During the course of the year AET colleagues will sit in on training sessions and feedback to the new hubs as part of AET support to ensure quality of delivery.  Additionally there will be termly meetings with hubs to review progress, gather feedback and discuss any issues arising.

What are the key deliverables?

There will be 4 key deliverables:
1.    To be the exclusive AET Early Years training programme deliverer in either the NW or the East region.
2.    To deliver training to the following minimum numbers of early years setting staff by March  2017:
a.    200 staff to receive Tier 1 training
b.    30 staff to receive Tier 2 training
c.    10 staff to receive Tier 3 training
3.    To maintain the current quality of delivery as indicated by feedback proformas gathered from all participants and quality assurance observations by AET commissioned staff.
4.    To contribute to the refinement and development of AET materials including feeding back improvement suggestions on the materials during the course of the programme
The training will be subject to an evaluation and quality assurance process developed and coordinated by the AET.

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 early years settings. Members of the team with an early years qualification would be advantageous.
•    A track record of delivering high quality training with independent evaluation of its effectiveness.
•    Evidence of access to extensive networks of early years settings so that the new training hub will be able to “hit the ground running” at the commencement of the contract in April 2016.
•    A willingness to be trained in the delivery of the AET materials and to supplement these with local materials where appropriate.
•    Bidders should state where their employees include individuals with autism and how their skills will be used in this work.

When do we need it?

The delivery timetable is set out below:

 Activity By When
Training hub appointed January/February 2016
Training and induction of new hub personnel March 2016
Delivery of tier 1,2 and 3 training  to target numbers March 2017

Budget and course cost structure

The total funding for each hub is £33,000 spread over three terms from April 1st 2016 to March 31st 2017. This is inclusive of any VAT and covers all the funding available to hubs. It includes all funding for the purchase of the training materials for the trainers and delegates up to target levels. These materials will cost under £1,000.  All delegate fees up to the target levels will be remitted to the AET. Once target levels have been achieved delegate fees are shared between the AET and the training hub on a 50/50 basis.   
The current cost structure for delegates for each level for early years training is as follows:
Tier 1: free
Tier 2: £190 per delegate
Tier 3: £95 per delegate
The above charges are subject to review by AET in consultation with all early years hubs.
After the funding period is over all hubs can apply to be licensed providers of AET training on a financially self sustaining basis.

Further information

Organisations who are interested in competing for this work should submit the proforma available to download here by Friday 27th January 2016. Those shortlisted will be interviewed on February 2nd or February 3rd 2016 in London (unfortunately we can’t pay interview expenses).

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

Relevant links

The AET early years autism standards

The AET early years autism competency framework

The AET programme